If there is anyone who gets a lot of criticism in the Mamelodi Sundowns team, it has to be Lebohang Maboe who has taken a lot of stick on social media, most of which comes from Downs fans.
Maboe spent close to eight months rehabilitating his knee and once he was cleared to play, his coaches have invested a lot of faith in him as he has made 11 appearances, missing only one game since his return. His inclusion in the team has sparked conversations around favoritism at Chloorkop.
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However, Masandawana coach, Manqoba Mngqithi has debunked the notion of favoritism and has explained why the former Maritzburg United player ranks high in the pecking order.
What sets him apart from the rest?
“He is a very intelligent player and he has the willingness to be deployed wherever because other players have an attitude when you play them out of position. If Lebo came to Sundowns as striker and then he says he does not want to play in any other position, who do we do when Peter Shalulile is our main striker?
“It is very important for players to be open minded. Ours as coaches is to guide and mold what we think is important. We knew that we wanted to use Lebo as a central midfielder because his physical and technical attributes match the position. His intellectual capacity to understand situations makes a key member of the club.”
What he brings to the table
“He is very good at breaking down attacks and his counter-pressing is great. His intensity is very good and his passing game has improved in leaps and bounds. He has the capacity to last the whole game with good actions including short sprint intervals and that makes him an important player for us. If you count his high intensity runs in a match, you will understand how important he is in our playing concept.”
“When he came back from his long term injury, I told the other coaches that it feels like we have just signed another player because with Lebo, you are covering a lot of spaces. He can play as a striker, he can play as a winger, can play as an attacking and central midfielder and he has also played as a right back and he can also play as a left back. He is a very important player for us but his main position is central midfield and he has what it takes to give us what we want in our game plan.”