Orlando Pirates trailed 1-0 against Bloemfontein Celtic earlier this week and substitute Luvuyo Memela scored a crucial equaliser to salvage a 1-1 draw to take Bucs to the summit of the PSL log.
As Pirates enter the final seven games of their title challenge, the fit-again attacker could be the key player if Milutin Sredojevic’s men are to lift the trophy in May.
This season, Memela has had something of an injury nightmare. After a knee injury in April 2018, he was out for five months before returning for a substitute outing against Cape Town City in September. He set up one clear cut chance in his 26 minutes on the pitch.
However, that proved a false dawn and he did not play a single minute in the following five months. Late last month, he finally made his return as a substitute against SuperSport United. Since then, he has started two matches as a number ten in Pirates’ new 3-2-4-1 formation and was used from the bench last night. In those limited minutes, he already has two goals and one assist. His return has been a massive boost for the squad.
Last season, Memela was arguably the club’s key man, alongside Musa Nyatama, with the latter scooping the Players’ Player of the Year award at Bucs’ end of season ceremony.
Memela’s contribution in attacking areas was immense for the side in the 2017/18 season:
- Most Open Play Crosses Per 90: 4.1 (22.7% accuracy)
- Club top scorer: 5 goals
- Best shooting accuracy amongst attacking players: 43.4%
- Most Assists: 11
- Second Most Chances Created: 38
Many supporters will question why he was only on the bench, considering his recent impact and proven track record last season. However, after so long out injured, it is crucial not to risk him getting injured again. In his 31 minutes on the pitch against Bloemfontein Celtic, he managed one goal, five shots (two on target), two successful dribbles and two open play crosses.
As players like Augustine Mulenga and Vincent Pule suffer a dip in form, Memela’s return is like a new signing at just the right time. Can he be the man to fire Pirates to PSL glory for the first time since 2011/12?
Can Luvuyo Amigo Memela have a crucial impact in the next seven games? Have Pirates found their best formation now? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below!