Neo Maema is increasingly becoming a star player at Mamelodi Sundowns and his popularity among the Masandawana faithful needs no questioning. It is his knack for marvelous goals that sees his star rising and somewhat forcing Downs coaches to field him ahead of the more established playmakers such as George Maluleka, Sibusiso Vilakazi and Gaston Sirino.
The 25-year-old former Bloemfontein Celtic attacker embarrassed Bafana Bafana and SuperSport United captain Ronwen Williams with a stunning goal in the Tshwane derby on Wednesday where the Pretoria rivals drew 2-2 at Loftus Versfeld.
Maema opened the scoring with a long range shot from his sweet left foot, leaving Williams to pick up the ball from the back of the net, probably still wondering where that bolting strike came from. But that was not all that Meama had to offer – he assisted Peter Shalulile’s ninth goal of the season with a pass to marvel about. If there were an award for the best assist, his text-book chip would be a front running contender.
His coach, Rulani Mokwena says those kinds of passes are from the training field and much credit has to go to the old guard at Downs, who have held Maema’s hand from day one.
“He comes in with the dynamism and ability to use the left foot very well and he has the confidence to strike the ball from range. He is learning a lot of good things and it was great to see the ball that he played for the assist to Peter, that chip over the top is something that we have been working hard on,” said Mokwena.
“Neo is young and very energetic, he works very hard on the pitch. He is an exciting player who is giving his heart and soul to Sundowns and I am sure the supporters are happy with his performances. The challenge now is for him to find consistency so he can be able to contribute to the goals, whether through assists or scoring,” the Masandawana mentor added.
He continued: “He receives mentorship from people like Themba Zwane and Vilakazi and that is very important because they guide and they assist him. It takes more than just a house to raise a kid, it is the responsibility of the entire community and in this case it is the responsibility of the entire change room.”