Mamelodi Sundowns’ assistant coach Manqoba Mngqithi defended the club’s striker Jeremy Brockie who hasn’t scored in a competitive match since his arrival in Chloorkop in January. Mngqithi said this at the Premier Soccer League’s headquarters in Parktown ahead of the Brazilians’ Telkom Knockout clash with Bloemfontein Celtic at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday.

“It’s very unfortunate because I still believe that he is a very good striker,” Mngqithi said. “I’ve seen quite a number of strikers in the league when I am doing my analysis of the opposition, when I look at the amount of work he puts in getting into the right areas, you sometime look at your team and say are we doing enough to assist such players?”

“He is a player with certain qualities but he might not have some of the qualities predominant Sundowns’ players would have. But in an around the box, he is very important. But when the ball is not delivered in the box, then that counts against him. At Sundowns we don’t have too many wingers who play in the wide channels, who will always play for somebody. ”

“If you look at Tottenham Hotspur in England, the team plays for Harry Kane. Get him, he will get the goal for you. But at Sundowns we have too many good players, we can’t play for someone. It becomes a problem for a player with the qualities that Brockie has because you would expect that if he can get three of four crosses, he will give us something.”

“But how many crosses are going to come from wingers because most of the times, fullbacks are the one who deliver? He has to try to keep pushing. I was happy with what he did in Ulundi. It’s unfortunate that he hasn’t scored (in a competitive match). When somebody is going through challenges, you mustn’t put a sword there. You must always try and support him, that’s what we are doing because we believe that he is a good player.”

Brockie will be looking to find his scoring touch against Phunya Sele Sele. Sundowns will be without Sibusiso Vilakazi who has been ruled out for up to six months because of a raptured tendon. This is a tricky encounter as it comes just days after the end of the Fifa break.

“We are fortunate to have had a little bit of time to prepare for this match, considering that we just had a Fifa break,” Mngqithi said. “But when you have six of your key players in their national teams, it lives a little bit of doubt as to how will they come back. Already we have lost one in Vila. We are left with five, hopefully, because they hadn’t arrived to us on Thursday.”

“The preparations have gone really well. The coach (Pitso Mosimane) wasn’t around. He was doing his Pro License in Morocco. We had to help where we can. We’ve had quite a very good preparation. We also went to Ulundi for the Legacy Cup. We managed to do well. One is hopeful that we have prepared well for the game ahead.”