What is Matlaba's best position?
Just where should Thabo Matlaba be playing; is he a left back or should he play in midfield? Let the experts give you their views.
The Orlando Pirates fullback has received heaps of praise from all over the country for his recent performance in South Africa’s 2-0 win over Central African Republic in a 2014 World Cup qualifying game.
Matlaba has been a consistent performer for his club and showed why he is so sought after with his man of the match performance against the Wild Beasts.
The 25 year old scored a cracking goal from long range to put the home side up in the first half and now everybody is talking about him.
Bafana Bafana captain Itumeleng Khune praised the defender’s performance and his goal for Bafana Bafana in Cape Town.
“We have players who are capable of scoring from anywhere on the pitch. It was nice seeing Thabo striking a ball from the halfway line,” commented Khune after the game.
Matlaba’s goal aside though, he was sometimes found wanting in defence on the night and the question was raised after the conclusion of the game if he might not be better suited for a more attacking role.
Players past and present praised his performance. Former Bafana players Zane Moosa and Vuyo Mere had good things to say about Matlaba, but also think that he might be better suited to the position where he started off his career in the Free State.
Former Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder and current football pundit Zane Moosa praised the Orlando Pirates left back’s versatility, but admitted that he is sometimes found wanting in defence.
“He is the kind of player any coach wants in his team. His versatility, his eye for goal is the type of qualities all coaches look for in a player. He is certainly a pleasure to have in your team,” Moosa says.
“He is great going forward but he is not the best defender, sometimes he forgets about his responsibilities at the back and is found wanting because of his size.
“Thabo took his chance against the Central African Republic and he should play in the next game for Bafana because of his man of the match performance. It is great when your fullback can attack like that but he must not forget that his is firstly a defender,” said Moosa
Moosa added that he thinks Matlaba might be better used in a more attacking position.
“His goal was of huge performance for us because our strikers have struggled to find the back of the net. He might be better if he was utilized as a forward in a more advanced position.”
Meanwhile Platinum Stars captain Vuyo Mere, who played a number of games at right back for Bafana Bafana, has also been impressed by Matlaba. The Dikwena defender thinks that the Buccaneers man is currently the best left back in country.
“He played very well on Saturday. I can’t say it is his best position [left back] but I’m sure he will do well in any position. For me Matlaba is the best left back in the league at the moment.”
The Platinum Stars man also shares the same thoughts as Moosa with regards to Matlaba’s versatility and thinks Matlaba might be suited to a more attacking role.
“His versatility is a huge advantage. He likes attacking and sometimes forgets to fall back so I think he would be better suited to a more attacking role,” added Mere.
South Africa has a wealth of talent in the left back position and it will be interesting to see if Igesund persists with Matlaba at left back when usual first choice Tsepo Masilela returns from injury.
Matlaba plays like a modern fullback. One can compare him to a Marcelo, Jordi Alba or even an Ashley Cole but all three of those players have huge defensive qualities.
One thing is for sure; Gordon Igesund has a selection headache to deal with, but at least it is a pleasant one!