Downs’ Laffor has the last laugh


In his first start since October last year, the Liberian forward led the Brazilians’ attack with a hat-trick against neighbours University of Pretoria – a club that Sundowns struggle to score more than one goal against – to help them win their seventh league title in the PSL-era, and Laffor’s fourth.

In between his last start against Maritzburg United in October and AmaTuks earlier this month, Laffor endured sitting on the bench and getting a few minutes here and there. His “crime”: Getting injured on international duty in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers with Liberia where they demolished Djibouti 5-0 to top Group A.

In his absence, his teammates took over and ran with the opportunity they were given which is what has pushed Sundowns to being crowned champions.

Whenever a fringe player has been given a chance, the person they replaced has had to work twice as hard to get back.

Siyanda Zwane, after a storming start to the season, missed one match because of flu.

It was all that Asavela Mbekile needed to cement his place, just like Wayne Arendse when Ramahlwe Mphahlele was injured, to a point that the Sundowns captain had to return at right-back with Arendse partnering Thabo Nthethe in the central defence position.

Tiyani Mabunda did the same when he was partnered with Hlompho Kekana in central midfield while replacing the injured Bongani Zungu and Soumahoro Bangaly along with Mzikayise Mashaba whom Mosimane had tried with Kekana.

That’s how Dennis Onyango also cemented his position as the first-choice goalkeeper, replacing Kennedy Mweene who had a shaky start.

But whenever Mweene and even Wayne Sandilands were called up in goals, they have been solid.

“I went home… and I got back injured,” Laffor said.

“The medical staff kept pushing me. When I wasn’t playing (after I recovered), it was frustrating sitting on the bench but the other players were doing well.

“If you aren’t playing at Sundowns, it doesn’t mean you are a bad player. You just need to be focused and when you get your chance you use it.

“We have a big squad, if you aren’t getting your chance you must keep your feet on the ground because the season is long and you will get your chance.

“You just need to make the most of it when you get it.”

That competition for places has ensured complacency doesn’t creep into the team.

Coach Pitso Mosimane will be preaching that when they travel to Ghana today for their clash against Medeama on Wednesday in Sekondi-Takorandi with the Brazilians carrying a 3-1 lead from the first leg.

If Sundowns protect that lead, they will advance to the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup which will go some distance in making up for their elimination from the CAF Champions League in the second round.

“It’s important that we reach the group stage, especially as the only South African team remaining,” Laffor said.

“It’s important for Sundowns and South Africa to go further. It’s what the coach demands from us. From the way he plans, you can see this guy wants to do something.

“He kept on pushing us and told us we must believe in ourselves because there was a time when we lost hope about winning the league. He kept pushing us, and told us we'll be successful.

“And we can do the same on the continent.”

The club’s fringe players could be further tested against Platinum Stars in their last game of the league campaign, as they would return from Ghana on Friday morning because of flights out of the country.

– The Sunday Independent

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