In-form Mbule keen to dominate Downs in crunch semi

In-form Mbule keen to dominate Downs in crunch semi

JOHANNESBURG – Sipho Mbule credits the support he has received from his teammates, and the challenges they have thrown at him for his growth at SuperSport United this season.

The Matsantsantsa a Pitori midfielder has been their talisman, weaving his magic in the middle of the park to create goals as well as score a stunning strike against Cape Town City. Before that goal, coach Kaitano Tembo challenged him to score more if he is to retain his place in the starting XI. Mbule did just that in the entertaining 3-3 draw with the Citizens on Saturday at Mbombela Stadium.

Tembo will be asking for more of that when SuperSport visit Mamelodi Sundowns tomorrow in the second leg of the MTN8 semi-final clash at Lucas Moripe Stadium. The first leg ended 1-1 in SuperSport’s home leg, with Mbule bossing the midfield.

“The performances that I have been able to produce are due to the guidance and help I have received from my teammates,” Mbule said. “The likes of Dean Furman, Teboho Mokoena and Bradley Grobler have been really helpful, but the whole team has really taken me under their wing. 

The ones that I mentioned are the ones that are pushing me all the time. They know my strength as well. That’s what makes working with them easier. I have played with Teboho since 2014, we both come from Bethlehem and we were at Harmony Sports Academy together.”

Mbule made his debut last season, but he achieved his breakthrough in this campaign where he has been among the stand-out players. The question on most football people’s minds is what has changed?

“The problem was that last season I wasn’t participating enough in defence. That has improved now. Now I am participating in defence and in attack. If you don’t have the ball you aren’t going to play, but if you have the ball things are easier for you. We have a good team to play the kind of football that we want to play. I have improved from last season. I know my struggles and I have worked hard to change that to be the way that I am right now.”

Mbule produced one of his best performances against the Brazilians, bossing the usually strong Sundowns midfield which is led by Hlompho Kekana. His combination with Mokoena and Furman gives the club the best of both worlds - protection from the tireless Furman and creativity from Mokoena and Mbule who attack and pitch in with a goal now and then. The biggest challenge for Mbule will be doing what he does consistently, especially in big matches like tomorrow’s clash with Sundowns.

“It will be a tough encounter, but we are prepared for it. The Cape Town City game gave us motivation, it showed that we can score goals,” Mbule said.

Bonginkosi Ndadane