With news being confirmed that Asavela Mbekile has signed a four-year deal with Mamelodi Sundowns, it appears the club’s influential destroyer, Hlompho Kekana, is going to face tough competition in the 2014/15 campaign.
According to Soccer Laduma’s stats, powered by Prozone, Mbekile was amongst the most destructive and hardworking holding midfielders in his position in the 2013/14 season.
The 27-year-old is amongst the PSL leaders when it comes to key attributes in his position.
He led the league with 5.05 tackles attempted per match. This was ahead of second-placed Thamsanqa Sangweni with 4.83 tackles. This also topped Kekana in the same category. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the Downs midfielder had less defending to do because the club generally dominated ball possession.
With that said, Mbekile’s appetite for hard work and the efficiency he showed in his role is undoubted – 47% of his passes are played forward which is a good number for a defensive midfielder. His interception and clearance rates are also above average in Mzansi’s top-flight.
The Cape Town-born star’s passing accuracy, versatility, physicality and athleticism are all characteristics of a top performing destroyer. In a season where the Dube Birds struggled defensively, Mbekile showed huge character in trying to protect his back four. It’s arguably why he picked up a very high 16 yellow cards – a sign that he was perhaps trying to cover space left behind by less defensively-inclined teammates.
In summary, it appears the player has all the attributes to give Kekana a run for his money in ‘14/15. This can only be a positive as the Brazilians set out to defend their Absa Premiership crown next season.
Have your say - Can Mbekile push Kekana all the way?