Cape Town - Uruguayan star Gastón Sirino is Mamelodi Sundowns' new talisman and has been given the task of reviving the team’s hopes of winning their second CAF Champions League title.
So said coach Pitso Mosimane following his charges' hard-fought 2-1 victory over Togo-Port Lome in their Champions League Group C match at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on "Blood Moon" Friday night.
Sirino scored and made an assist for Sibusiso Vilakazi in a man-of-the-match showing and a victory that boosted his club's chances of qualifying for the knockout stages with their first win of the competition.
Mosimane, a former Bafana Bafana coach, said the 27-year-old Sirino is now the new talisman and his best is yet to come.
"He has to carry the team on his tiny shoulders because Percy (Tau) and Khama (Billiat) are gone," said Mosimane after Friday's game.
"I have been waiting for this performance. It's his kind of game and he turned it on from the first minute. He is growing in confidence and he is slowly adjusting to the way we play. We have been waiting for someone to carry the team and he is raising his hand.
"He is going to be our star who will run the show for us this season. I hope he carries the team; he is capable of doing that and he can win the Champions League for us."
The coach said one thing Sirino had to work on was to move away from shirking his shooting responsibility by choosing to create chances for his team-mates instead. Mosimane's observation was that Sirino would score many goals if he chose this path.
The dazzling midfielder surely proved with this performance that he is taking over from last season's stars Tau and Billiat who have since left the Brazilians. Billiat joined cross-town rivals Kaizer Chiefs from the Tshwane side and last season’s footballer of the year Tau signed for English Premiership outfit Brighton & Hove Albion.
This must rate as Sirino's best game in the Bafana Ba'style shirt.
Sundowns moved level on five points with log leaders and holders Wydad Casablanca of Morocco and Horoya of Guinea. The two clubs were scheduled to play each other in Morocco early this morning local time.
The Tshwane giants' next Champions League game is against holders Wydad in Casablanca on August 7. The two sides played to a 1-1 draw in Sundowns' home leg in the group's opening game. Mosimane is targeting a second-place finish in this tightly contested group.
Mosimane said he was focusing more on the last group game at home against Horoya on August 28.
"We dominated the Togo team and missed a lot of chances, and we could have easily paid the price. We will qualify; we have only been back at training for four weeks."
This was a strong message that the team, whose slogan is The Sky is the Limit, is on an upward trajectory.