WARRIORS left back Devine Lunga scored on his Mamelodi Sundowns debut on Tuesday evening to help his side book a place in the final of the MTN8 after beating Golden Arrows 3-0 in a semi-final, second leg match played at Lucas Moripe in Pretoria.
Namibian Peter Shalulile struck in the fourth minute while Lunga added in the 29th minute and substitute Neo Maema’s injury-time curler earned the Tshwane giants a 4-1 aggregate victory after the first leg ended 1-1.
The win saw the Brazilians edging closer to winning a Cup which has eluded them since 2007.
Lunga, who had not made it into Sundowns’ matchday squad in the last four games prior to the cup game, is a former Golden Arrows who joined the Brazilians in mid-July and he had never kicked a ball for his new paymasters.
His Tuesday night breathtaking performance has earned him praise from local seasoned coaches.
Warriors second assistant coach Mandla “Lulu” Mpofu who is also the Highlanders technical manager said he had always believed in Lunga’s capabilities.
“At first, we should ask ourselves the question: why did Mamelodi Sundowns sign Devine Lunga? Obviously, they had seen a lot of quality in the player. He joined one of the big clubs in Africa which has players that come from all over the world,” said Mpofu.
“Yes, it has taken long for the player to make his debut. It’s like he moved from Wigan Athletic to Manchester City or Manchester United. For a fact, I knew he was going to grab the opportunity with both hands. We can doubt his ability at our own peril. He is a quality player,” added Mpofu.
His sentiments were echoed by former national team head coach Joey Antipas, an experienced gaffer who also worked with Lunga when the player was still doing duty for Chicken Inn.
“It’s sad that it took long for Lunga to feature for Mamelodi Sundowns after proving to be a consistent player at Golden Arrows. It was really worrying but Sundowns has a lot of quality players which meant he was not going to automatically get into the starting team. He is an exciting modern-day fullback. He defends and attacks well and he has an amazing work rate,” reckoned Antipas.
At Sundowns, a club he joined on a three-year contract, Lunga is competing with the likes of Lyle Lakay, Aubrey Modiba and Tebogo Langerman at left-back.
The Zimbabwean’s move from Golden Arrows, where he was a standard feature since joining them in 2018 making 84 appearances while scoring once and assisting in four more goals, saw him link up with his former mentor Steve Komphela who is Mamelodi Sundowns’ co- coach with Rulani Mokwena and Manqoba Mngqithi.
Other Zimbabwean players that have played for Sundowns include Peter Ndlovu, Khama Billiat, Kudakwashe Mahachi, Esrom Nyandoro, Method Mwanjali and Cuthbert Malajila.