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Derby first, records later, says Shonga

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Shonga will be making his debut in a derby that captures the country’s imagination

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ORLANDO Pirates’ exciting forward Justin Shonga is confident that with time he will break Collins Mbesuma’s impressive scoring record of 25 goals in the league and 35 in all competitions.

Siyabonga Nomvethe is the closest anyone came to challenging Mbesuma. “Bhele” finished with 20 goals in the league in the 2011/12 season, five shy of the Zambian. Now that Shonga has found his groove, stretching his goals tally to three with a brace against Chippa United on Sunday, he believes that with time he will break his countryman’s record.

“Mbesuma played for both clubs, Kaizer Chiefs and Pirates, he has been telling me what it takes to succeed here and what I am supposed to do,” Shonga said.

“He always encourages me and sends me text messages after the game.

“No one has beaten his scoring tally. I will do it with time because it takes time for one to settle down and understand the dynamics of where you are playing. You can’t just come and hit the ground running. It will take time and with hard work; I can do it. I really respect his hard work and legacy.”

Shonga’s immediate task is to lead the Buccaneers to a win over arch-rivals Amakhosi in the Soweto Derby on Saturday at FNB Stadium.

For the first time in a long time more than pride is at stake in this big match. It could determine which team will chase Mamelodi Sundowns in the title race. The winners will sit in second position regardless of how Sundowns performs against AmaZulu the day before, which could set up a tight finish to the league that’s the Brazilians’ to lose.

Shonga will be making his debut in a derby that captures the country’s imagination.

“I have always supported Zesco United because my father used to play for Zesco,” Shonga said. “I never played in the big derby in Zambia because I never represented those teams. That’s why I am looking forward to playing in this one. I am excited about what’s going to come and being a part of it. I have watched it growing up in Zambia. This is one of the biggest derbies on the continent. We will have to work hard and push. Both teams need to win.”

Njabulo Ngidi