Home Sport Gaston Sirino could soon be a regular in Sundowns’ starting XI

Gaston Sirino could soon be a regular in Sundowns’ starting XI

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Gaston Sirino joined the fray late in Saturday’s AFL quarter-final first leg in Angola, and proved his worth as a playmaker after providing an assist for Thapelo Maseko who scored the second goal in Mamelodi Sundowns’ win.

Gaston Sirino of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrates goal during the 2023 Carling Knockout Cup last 16 match between TS Galaxy and Mamelodi Sundowns at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit
Gaston Sirino (pictured) joined the fray late in Saturday’s AFL quarter-final first leg in Angola, and proved his worth as a playmaker after providing an assist for Thapelo Maseko who scored the second goal in Mamelodi Sundowns’ win. Picture: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePix

The Uruguayan-born Gaston Sirino is back in favour at Mamelodi Sundowns and could be tasked with leading the attack against Petro Atletico at Loftus Versfeld on Tuesday evening.

Sirino joined the fray late in Saturday’s AFL quarter-final first leg in Angola, and proved his worth as a playmaker after providing an assist for Thapelo Maseko who scored the second goal in Sundowns’ 2-0 win.

Last week, Sirino made his first appearance in four months, when he was named on the Sundowns’ bench for their Carling Knockout opening-round clash against TS Galaxy in Mbombela. He came off the bench late in the match and produced a fine touch with a great strike to score an equaliser for Sundowns, who subsequently lost in the eventual penalty shoot-out.

After these two cameo outings, Sirino has probably clocked enough playing time to warrant a place in the starting XI and that could materialise in Tuesday’s second leg at Loftus.

King of Assists

In some quarters Sirino has been labelled the ‘King of Assists’ and this asset could help the team stabilise at a time when fixtures are coming fast and furiously. Vastly changed teams, usually untried combinations, cannot be relied on as past results have shown.

Whatever team Sundowns field on Tuesday they should be able to defend their 2-0 aggregate and secure a semi-final berth.

Petro will have a huge task to turn the tables on Sundowns although they showed terrific form at various stages in the first half. During that time, they were denied thrice by Sundowns goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, who deservedly won the ‘Man-of-the-Match’ award. He also saved a penalty.

Petro will have to win the game by a margin of more than three goals to make it to the semi-finals. A 2-0 win will push the game to penalties, but the biggest strategy for the Angolan champions will be finding a way not to concede.

Climbing mount Loftus

Their coach Alexander Santos will have his work cut out at Loftus and knows it will not be an easy challenge.

“We need to be sharper in front of goal and make use of our chances. It is never easy playing away from home, but we are confident we can get the job done,” said Santos the Portuguese-born tactician.

Santos might make some changes in his forward line, and an expected one is to see club captain Tiago Azulao starting.

The Brazilian came off the bench in the first leg, and with goals surely needed in Pretoria, Santos will call on his most experienced forward.

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