'Injury-free' Vilakazi aims to get better in Mamelodi Sundowns' title push

Mamelodi Sundowns forward Sibusiso Vilakazi is eager “to smell the green grass again” and help the Brazilians notch a third straight Premier Soccer League (PSL) crown if football resumes.

While also expressing gratitude for a clean bill of health this season, after his campaign last term was punctuated by some injuries, Vilakazi believes he can be on top of his game when local football restarts.

But with 10 goals and 11 assists in 32 games across all competitions so far this season, he already appeared to be at his best before football was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I have been blessed by not being injured this season, that was the setback previously. I am grateful for being injury-free, and when that happens the coaches will give you the opportunity, and I think I have done the job the best way I can,” Vilakazi told the Mamelodi Sundowns website.

“My priority has been to do my best to help the team. That’s my motto this season. I believe I can get better once we resume football because Sundowns is a team determined to get more trophies.

“I want to smell the grass again, get the feel of the ball on my boots, wear the training kit and going for it again and hearing the coach give us that pep-talk again, that we are back. Those are the things that I am looking forward to and to see how we go about the remaining games and the Nedbank Cup, that’s exciting.”

If the season continues, Sundowns would be chasing glory on two fronts - the league title race in which they are second on the PSL standings with four points behind leaders Kaizer Chiefs who have played a game more and also the Nedbank Cup where they face Bidvest Wits in the semi-finals.

Vilakazi has however expressed “frustration” at the coronavirus-induced break stretching for three months.

“There’s a positive side and the negative side of the break – the negative being that it has gone on beyond what we anticipated and led to a bit of frustration,” said Vilakazi.

“We thought by now we would be back doing what we do best, which is playing football. We thought things would get back to normal in terms of it being okay for us to go back, does it make sense and given the medical green light.”

The forward also draws positives from the pause which he says allowed them time to rest after failing to enjoy off-season in recent years owing to participation in the Caf Champions League.

“But the positive side is, of course, the opportunity to bond with our families because we are away so much. We participate in the Caf Champions League and that in itself takes so much time away from family, the beautiful side is seeing your children daily now. It’s how we test ourselves in Africa to see how far we can go, so it has the negative and the positive side.”