Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has hinted that new Uruguayan forward Gaston Sirino has been brought in as a potential replacement for Khama Billiat‚ who may sign for a European club during the January transfer window.
Mosimane said 1.66m tall Sirino‚ whose deal from Bolivian 2016-17 champions Club Bolivar La Paz was concluded on Tuesday‚ is a similar player to Billiat‚ the little Zimbabwean who was the attacking inspiration behind Downs’ 2016 Caf Champions League success.
The Sundowns coach travelled to Bolivia to scout for Sirino. "I did travel. I saw him play in two games. And what I saw‚ I was happy with‚" he said.
"Whether it’s going to be the same in SA, I cannot guarantee."
Video footage shows Sirino to be quick-footed in the Billiat mould‚ and similarly capable of exploiting pockets of space.
"Sirino is the kind of player with the qualities of a Khama Billiat‚ of a Percy Tau or Aubrey Ngoma‚" Mosimane said.
"He’s got speed. He’s an intelligent player. So that’s why we brought him here."
Mosimane appeared to hint that Billiat might be on his way out during this transfer window. "The ‘CBD’ is gone or is going – maybe there’s one left‚" Mosimane said in a reference to the one remaining member of that combination‚ Billiat‚ who is thought to be on his way to a European club.
The other parts of the triumvirate that caught fans’ imagination as Sundowns won the PSL in 2015-16 have been sold — Keagan Dolly to Montpellier a year ago and Leonardo Castro joining Chiefs late last month.
Mosimane continued: "But we have to make sure that Sundowns stay on top.
"Sundowns are a top club. The CBD did not play in the past year and Sundowns are still on top of the log and playing convincing football," he said.
"So Sirino is part of a future. The supporters play with the names and probably we will have another combination.
"But the good thing is we did these signings very quickly.
"So Ngoma is here to do another part‚ [Jeremy] Brockie is here to do another part‚ and Sirino is here to do another part.
"He’s never a central midfielder when you need one – he’s direct‚ to replace the CBD.
"I don’t say that they [the signings] will do that immediately. But I say they have the capacity to."