An injury to Gabadinho Mhango has seen Zakhele Lepasa emerge as a great option up front for Orlando Pirates but it could spell bad news for Tshegofatso Mabasa.
Prior to last season, Lepasa was recalled from his time on loan at Stellenbosch FC and then TS Galaxy – scoring four goals en route to lifting the Nedbank Cup – to be part of the Pirates first team.
After his return from loan, the 23-year-old struggled for minutes. He appeared on the pitch for just 256 minutes in total last season but did score against both Bidvest Wits and SuperSport United.
This season, he has impressed in his outings and scoring a fine header in the MTN8 semi-final first leg against Kaizer Chiefs. He has already played 327 minutes this term, more than all of last season. Pirates have not heavily felt the loss to injury of Gabadinho Mhango nor the release of strikers like Justin Shonga and Augustine Mulenga.
View images of Bucs thrashing Chiefs in the MTN8:
Bab new for Mabasa?
After arriving from Celtic, Tshegofatso Mabasa made a big impact initially as Rulani Mokwena gave him many chances to play. He scored six goals in total in his first 600 minutes of football, finishing well with both feet across the season.
Once Josef Zinnbauer arrived, he fell out of favour completely getting less than 40 minutes in total in the first 10 league games under the German coach. He was recalled against Baroka in the bio-bubble and scored a fine goal but was subbed off as a substitute himself in the final two matches. Injury has delayed his progress this season and he may now be a third-choice striker when fit.
Fadlu Davids has urged Lepasa to keep grounded and to strive for consistency in his game going forward but if he keeps playing with his current energy and work-rate, Mhango won’t need to be rushed back from injury.
Bucs’ injury update in late October included Mabasa’s rehabilitation for the next couple of weeks before he can return to training with the rest of the squad.
Has Lepasa impressed you? Why has Zinnbauer not picked Mabasa much? Let us know by commenting below!