Shonga ready to make PSL's most feared strike duo with Mulenga at Pirates
Zambian goal poacher Justin Shonga believes he and his compatriot Augustine Mulenga can become the most feared strike partnership in the Premier Soccer League (PSL).
Absa Premiership leaders Orlando Pirates return to league action on Saturday‚ hosting 14th-placed Maritzburg United at Orlando Stadium (kickoff 8.15pm).
Both Pirates's Zambians – already lethal in the green for their national team‚ and after some early teething problems‚ increasingly so in black and white – were on the scoresheet again as Bucs beat Light Stars 5-1 on their return to the Caf Champions League on Wednesday.
The goals against the team from Seychelles in the preliminary round‚ first leg fixture in Soweto carried the hallmarks of the two strikers – one‚ Mulenga‚ a big‚ fast bulldozer into the area; the other‚ Shonga‚ clever around the edges of the box.
Bullish Mulenga scored Pirates’ second goal steaming through and finishing past goalkeeper Romeo Barra in the 38th minute. Shonga came off the bench and smashed in a trademark free-kick for Bucs’ fourth in the 92nd.
While they did not play 90 minutes together on Wednesday‚ the duo have the potential to be one of the best strike partnerships ever seen in the PSL.
“I think it’s been maybe two years now that we’ve been playing together at the national team‚” Shonga said.
“So I know his movements. For now I’m getting better and better at playing alongside him and knowing him.
“We are always together. We talk about football all the time. Sometimes‚ when we watch the videos of games we’ve played I will even tell him to do this or that.
“Even before a game we will say to each other‚ ‘Remember that time when we were watching that game. We will strategise‚ say that I was in this position‚ you passed to me‚ and so on’.
“That is helping me so much. And I always look out for him when we’re on the field‚ along with [Thembinkosi] Lorch and [Thabiso] Kutumela.
“But it looks like it’s a brother thing – that’s what I would say.”
The teething problems in the partnership have mostly come from Shonga‚ who at the start of the season was guilty of missing some sitters‚ but increasingly has grown more assured in front of goal.
The Zambian‚ though‚ has made set pieces his hallmark‚ and scored another stunner against Light Stars.
“It all comes from practicing at training. I really do those things with [goalkeeper] Jackson Mabokgwane at training‚” Shonga said.
“Because the coaches say it’s the last bullet in the gun. If you fail to score in open play‚ then even if you find a single set piece in a match‚ if we don’t get two or three‚ then you have to use it.
“The coaches always put everything in me‚ that they have the trust in me [for set pieces]‚ so I have to pay back the faith they have in me.”
PSL this weekend -
Chippa United v AmaZulu (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium‚ 8pm)
Highlands Park v Cape Town City (Makhulong Stadium‚ 3.30pm)
Lamontville Golden Arrows v Kaizer Chiefs (Princess Magogo Stadium‚ 6pm)
Orlando Pirates v Maritzburg United (Orlando Stadium‚ 8.15pm)
Black Leopards v Bidvest Wits (Thohoyandou Stadium‚ 8.15pm)
Bloemfontein Celtic v Polokwane City (Dr Molemela Stadium‚ 3.30pm)
SuperSport United v Mamelodi Sundowns (Lucas Moripe Stadium‚ 3.30pm)