‘People laughed at me when I said Shalulile was the best striker in SA’ — Da Gama
Sekhukhune United co-coach Owen Da Gama says he was laughed at when he said Peter Shalulile, then his player at Highlands Park and now Mamelodi Sundowns’ red-hot goal ace, was the best striker in the country.
Da Gama said he feels vindicated thanks to the unbelievable run the player has had this season. Shalulile, 28, is setting the DStv Premiership alight. Having scored 22 times, he looks set to break Collins Mbesuma’s long-standing record of 25 league goals in a season.
The Namibian forward scored again in Sundowns’ 2-0 win over Da Gama’s Sekhukhune at Ellis Park on Tuesday. He scored the first back-to-back Premiership hat tricks in Downs' wins against Swallows FC and Golden Arrows last month.
“When I said two years ago he is the best striker in the country, people laughed at me,” Da Gama said.
“But he is breaking all kinds of records - National First Division [NFD] top scorer, he is the leading goal scorer in the top division and those back-to-back hat-tricks.
“Hopefully he can break the [Mbesuma] record. I was hoping he wouldn't break the record against us and score a hat-trick, but I think we planned very well.”
When Shalulile wins the top goal scorer’s award in 2021-22 it will be the third time he bags a Golden Boot since he arrived in SA to join Highlands in 2015.
He was the NFD's joint top scorer with Mwape Musonda on 15 goals when Highlands was promoted to the top-tier in 2017-2018. In the 2019-2020 Premiership season Shalulile scored 16 goals for the Lions of the North and won the Lesley Manyathela Golden Boot award.
“I’m so glad for him because he is the epitome of a professional player who is coachable and who works hard. That boy works hard. He used to ask me to watch videos with him, he used to ask me for extra training,” Da Gama said.
“I no longer have hair because he was missing so many goals, and you know what I said to him? I said, ‘Keep on missing.’
“Initially, I was having a go at him but I realised I shouldn’t put him under pressure, just encourage him. Ge worked hard, he never dropped his head, missing five goals in a game, and I told him one day he would score five in a match.
“He just kept on working and working. His lifestyle, his attitude, it’s just the epitome of a professional player and hopefully that will allow others to see that the harder you work, the luckier you get.
“He works for his goals. He is an example, not only to strikers but to any professional player in this country that you’ve got to put your career first and work very hard.”
Shalulile has three games against Kaizer Chiefs, Stellenbosch FC and Royal AM to try to break Mbesuma’s record or set a new one.
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