The former Bloemfontein Celtic midfielder has played in only seven league and cup games this season, six of those coming off the substitutes bench
When Orlando Pirates needed a key to unlock the stubborn Maritzburg United defence, it was Kabelo Dlamini who did the trick after making a big impact off the bench in Bucs’ 3-1 Nedbank Cup last 16 win at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday evening.
Dlamini replaced Ben Motshwari at the half time interval in Pietermaritzburg, with Bucs trailing 1-0 at that stage after an early Thabiso Kutumela goal had put the hosts in front.
Ten minutes into the second stanza and Dlamini had the match back on even terms when his curling shot from just outside the box deflected off Maritzburg defender Clayton Daniels and into the net.
Deon Hotto then put Bucs in front just a minute later before Vincent Pule completed the scoring in the 78th minute, latching onto the rebound after Dlamini’s dipping shot had only been parried by goalkeeper Marcel Engelhardt.
Pirates head coach Josef Zinnbauer said that he had felt that his team had struggled in the first half, and was pleased with their response after making a few changes.“We had a lot of good attacks (in the first half), we come to the final third, but the solution, the decisions, were not alright,” Zinnbauer told SuperSport TV after the game.“At half time we spoke about this in the dressing room, and we changed a little bit the system. And then we came better in the game.”Dlamini’s attacking guile from midfield was notable in the second half and his ability to thrive in tight situations ultimately changed the game.
“And then you see Dlamini come in, you see he scored, and [Vincent] Pule made the next step, and we have then what you expect from Pirates. They took the control, led the game, and won the game,” Zinnbauer commented.
“Dlamini is a player that needs small spaces, it's unbelievable for me, but he is a top player when he has a tight space. He finds always a good solution, and he can score - we know that.
“He was a long time out, now he comes closer and closer, step by step back to the squad and in the team now. He did this very well and I’m happy about this.”