Siyabonga Sangweni defends his turf
Defender Siyabonga Sangweni, 31, played a pivotal role in Orlando Pirates’ successful defence of their Absa Premier Soccer League crown in the 2011/2012 season and was also short-listed for the coveted Player of the Year award.
TV commentator and former Bafana Bafana player Mark Williams assesses Siyabonga’s strengths.
1. Beat the best
Siyabonga is one of the best defenders in the PSL.
He usually gets the better of most local strikers. I think he was very unlucky not to receive the ultimate accolade as South Africa’s player of the year earlier in 2012.
He was also influential in helping Pirates win the treble of titles last season, and was an excellent buy for the team.
2. Shoulder responsibility
One of the reasons Pirates has been so dominant is that Siyabonga, as the man in the heart of the defensive line-up, takes responsibility.
He never wavers or shirks and he absorbs the pressure. He is also not an inconsistent performer who makes match-winning defensive saves, just to lose his concentration and allow a striker to beat him a few minutes later.
He consistently performs at a high level.
3. Feels like fish
He reminds me of the former Bafana Bafana defender Mark Fish.
Like Mark, he does not stay at the back to defend. He likes to move forward and attack, and then moves back to the second last line of defenders again.
To do that, you have to be extremely fit. Siyabonga has the ability to move around the field and take part in play.
4. Go for goal
If you look at Sangweni’s contribution at Pirates, he has also scored a number of goals (four in his first
28 games for Pirates), which played a critical role in their ability to win the PSL crown last season.
5. Different defender
While he’s not particularly robust or extremely fast, his skills assets are different.
His awareness and ability to read play helps him to cut down the space of the strikers.
He is a street-wise and smart defender, who reads situations and prevents strikers from beating him.
He anticipates very well, which puts him in an excellent position to defend when the strikers move closer to the box.
6. Confident player
One of Siyabonga’s greatest assets is his self-belief and confidence.
He also creates chances for the attacking midfielders with his industriousness and movement around the park.
Siyabonga is not a player who plays just according to the script – if he sees an opportunity, he will grab it, simply because of his superior awareness and reading of the game.
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