Lucas Ribeiro steps up for Mamelodi Sundowns in Peter Shalulile’s absence

Mamelodi Sundowns’ coach Rhulani Mokwena is very happy with Lucas Ribeiro’s form. Picture: Khaled Desouki / AFP

Mamelodi Sundowns’ coach Rhulani Mokwena is very happy with Lucas Ribeiro’s form. Picture: Khaled Desouki / AFP

Published Feb 29, 2024


Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena waxed lyrical about Brazilian star Lucas Ribeiro after his hat-trick heroics against AmaZulu.

The Brazilians surged closer to another DStv Premiership title by beating Usuthu 3-0 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Tuesday night, thanks to Ribeiro’s second-half haul.

In what looked to be a difficult match for the Chloorkop-based outfit against a resolute AmaZulu, the 23-year-old proved decisive with a memorable hat-trick in the second stanza.

Sundowns’ latest win moves them 11 points ahead of second-placed Cape Town City, having now gone 16 games unbeaten in the campaign.

Ribeiro, who arrived at the start of the season, also moved to the top of the league scoring charts with 10 goals.

Mokwena was happy to see Sundowns win a league game following three consecutive draws.

He then went on to praise the individual showing of Ribeiro, and attributed his fine season to the winger’s mentality and personality on and off the pitch.

“I think AmaZulu were worthy opponents. They were very structured, especially in the first half, didn’t give us a lot of space. And we had to be very, very patient, and I liked that side of Sundowns today,” he explained.

“I was impressed by his (Ribeiro’s) performance in the last game when he came on as a substitute in the Champions League.

“The team is playing well and scoring goals without Themba Zwane and Peter Shalulile, which sends a powerful message about the competition for places, so I’m proud of him (Ribeiro).

“In Mauritania, he was on the bench but he was handing out water to the rest of the players who were running and dealing with the heat.

“This shows his mentality and the fact that he’s a good person, the fact that he celebrates other people’s success.”

Sundowns recorded seven attempts at Usuthu’s goal, but couldn’t find the breakthrough in the opening half.

Mokwena praised his players for not letting the frustration get to them, and he enjoyed seeing Masandawana’s composure in the second half.

“I liked the patience, sticking to the identity, and probing. We did a bit better in the second half with an extra touch, and not releasing the ball too quickly,” the coach said.

“We’ve been struggling with that for the last couple of games, but we were better today, especially in the second half.”

Sundowns’ next task is a final match in the CAF Champions League group stage against Democratic Republic of Congo giants TP Mazembe at the FNB Stadium on Saturday (3pm kick-off).

Although both teams have already confirmed their progression to the knockout stages of the competition, Sundowns will be looking for victory at home to claim top spot in Group A, with both sides currently on 10 points.

Mazembe are the only side to have beaten Sundowns in the Champions League this season, a record the 2016 winners will be looking to set straight.