Why Mabasa is key to Orlando Pirates' early-season PSL title charge
Goal explains how the bulky marksman is vital to the Buccaneers' ambitions of challenging for the league championship
The 2021/22 season has seen Orlando Pirates make a decent start to their PSL campaign as they look to mount a serious challenge for the league title.
The Buccaneers have collected eight points from a possible 12 - recording two draws and two victories in their first four games which sees them placed fourth on the log - two points behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns.
The team's first win of the season came against Swallows FC with Tshegofatso Mabasa coming off the bench to score in the 78th minute to earn Bucs a 1-0 victory in the Soweto Derby on September 11.
It was the left-footed striker's second successive substitute appearance for Bucs as he works his way back into the team after recovering from an injury that saw him miss the start of the current campaign.
Mabasa then started against Chippa United on Saturday as a reward for his heroics in the Soweto Derby and he did not disappoint as he marked his first start this season with a goal with Pirates securing a 3-1 win.
It is imperative for Bucs to keep Mabasa keep fit and firing if they are to maintain their unbeaten start in the league with the 24-year-old player's progress at the club having been hampered by injuries.
As Pirates co-interim coach Fadlu Davids recently stated, Mabasa is different from the other strikers at the Houghton-based giants.
Mabasa is a traditional number 9, who is usually the Buccaneers' focal point in attack, and his positional sense and goalscoring ability inside the penalty area make him a dangerous centre-forward.
The Buccaneers tend to use a lot of wing-play under Davids and fellow co-interim coach Mandla Ncekazi which brings out the best in Mabasa, who has a knack for attacking balls and crosses played into the opposition's box.
Wide players such as Vincent Pule, Deon Hotto, Paseka Mako and Bandile Shandu are expected to deliver crosses into the opposition's box which is the type of service that a box striker Mabasa needs.
Two of Mabasa's goals this season came from balls played into the box by Pule, who has developed a telepathic understanding with his fellow Free State-born attacker which will be key for the Soweto giants this term.
Pirates' very own 'Shalulile'
The man nicknamed Tshego has impressively netted 11 goals from 13 league starts since he joined the Buccaneers in July 2019 from Bloemfontein Celtic where he scored 10 goals in his final campaign with the club.
With more starts, Tshego will definitely contribute some goals to the current Pirates team and put the Soweto giants in a position where they are able to win matches and also keep up with the perennial PSL title contenders, Sundowns.
Masandawana have a reliable striker in Peter Shalulile, whose 15 goals inspired the Tshwane giants to last season's PSL title with the Namibia international missing just five games in the league and he was named Footballer of the Season.
While Mabasa netted five goals from 11 league appearances due to his injury woes, but he can be Pirates' very own 'Shalulile' if he stays injury-free as he is a proven goalscorer just like the Sundowns star.