Those close to Peter Shalulile claim everything he does often appears hurried, even when he is leading a song in the change room. Apparently, he's off key a lot of the times. But on the pitch, it really is a different tune.
Shalulile is quick, nippy and a serious goal threat. His 19 goals in 39 matches last season is what enticed Mamelodi Sundowns to chase after his signature, and they are lucky they caught him, the Namibian striker is so fast…
And that's no surprise – if you go back a few years, Shalulile was a fullback, bombing down the right flank trying to keep the goals out of the net. Now he is banging them in. He's a nightmare for defenders and has even more ammunition this season following his multi-million rand move to Chloorkop.
Shalulile and Sundowns didn't get off to the best of starts for the new 2020/21 season after being bundled out of the MTN8 quarter finals by Bloemfontein Celtic, a team that the Brazilians beat four times last season.
But the big take away last weekend, at least for Shalulile, is that he seems to be the go-to man for Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego – the three wise men who sit in the Sundowns dugout, joint coaches Manqoba Mngqithi, Rulani Mokwena and "senior coach" Steve Komphela. Explaining this arrangement is a story for another time.
But in Shalulile, who turned 27 this week, they have a scoring machine that can offer them something Sundowns lacked for much of the previous season. It's remarkable that Downs, then under coach Pitso Mosimane, were able to win the league without a proven striker.
Mauricio Affonso, signed in July last year, was first injured and then stuck in Uruguay during the hard levels of the Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa. He'd gone back home for his rehabilitation, and when he returned the new regulations to curb the spread of the virus made it impossible for him to play the remaining matches.
A new DStv Premiership campaign gets underway on Saturday and there's no bigger fixture on the weekend calendar than Kaizer Chiefs hosting the reigning champions. Shalulile is the type of striker to give Amakhosi coach Gavin Hunt sleepless nights.
Hunt probably picked him as a Footballer of the Season contender for last season, the forward would have needed enough votes from all 16 topflight coaches to make it onto that list. He did, alongside Chiefs top scorer Samir Nurković, as well as new teammates Gastón Sirino and Themba Zwane. Shalulile is the only contender for the coveted award with 16 goals.
Hunt highlighted that he doesn't quite have his imprint on the Chiefs team just yet, though a 2-1 win over Maritzburg United was an ideal start last Sunday.
They looked shaky in defence. Daniel Cardoso and Ramahlwe Mphahlele, a centre back converted to a right back and then again to playing in central defence, are no spring chickens – they have the brains, but not the speed.
Here comes Peter Shalulile…
- The DStv Premiership kicks off tomorrow (Oct 24). Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns will face off at 3.30pm on SuperSport PSL (DStv 202).