Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
South Africa’s young sensation Phakamani Mahlambi can’t wait to don the Bafana Bafana jersey.
He played a key role in helping the South African u20 Men’s National Team (Amajita) qualify for the 2017 FIFA u20 World Cup which will be played in South Korea in May.
Following his outstanding performances for both club (Bidvest Wits) and country, Mahlambi has been included in the 25-man Bafana Bafana squad to face Guinea-Bissau and Angola in international friendly matches.
He did not get to play in the 3-1 win over Guinea-Bissau but fancies his chances in the clash against Angola on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at Buffalo City Stadium in East London.
Kickoff is at 19h00.
“I am hoping to get a run because the coach had said there will be a rotation of players and should I get the nod, I will grab the opportunity with both hands and do the best for my country. Obviously I want to test my readiness for the Senior Team, and I have to thank the technical team for selecting me. I trust that God protects me from any injuries as I am really looking forward to play and showcase my talent on a bigger stage,” said Mahlambi.
The other youngster also called up to the Bafana Bafana squad is Portugal-based Luther Singh, who is Mahlambi’s teammate in the Amajita squad. Both grew up admiring senior players in the national team like Thulani Hlatshwayo, Erick Mathoho, Dean Furman, Thulani Serero, Itumeleng Khune, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Andile Jali, Keagan Dolly and Kermit Erasmus – now they get to play alongside them.
“It’s an honour for me and Luther to come and play alongside the big names in South African football, and for us this is a motivation – as you know we are going to play the u20 World Cup, for us being in the Bafana Bafana squad is a learning period where we need to get some experience to the u20 squad because we want to win that touranment and not make up the numbers,” added Mahlambi.
Bafana Bafana have faced Angola on 12 occasions, winning eight times and drawing three matches while losing only once. But Mahlambi is confident of another victory.
“Yes it’s a big game against Angola but we are not worried about them because we have a good squad of players, and we showed against Guinea-Bissau what we are capable of. I don’t think the changes that are expected in the team will affect us much because everyone is performing so well,” said Mahlambi.
Having beaten Guinea-Bissau convincincly in Durban on Saturday, 25 March, Mahlambi doesn’t not believe they have put themselves under pressure to do well against Angola.
“I don’t think we are under any pressure to get a positive result because we have been doing well in the last few matches – we have now gone 16 games unbeaten. While I have the utmost respect for Angola, I also believe we can do better against them than we did against Guinea-Bissau. The boys are really working hard with a lot of healthy competition for places in the team, so we just need to go and play our normal footbal like we did in Durban and the result will come,” said Mahlambi.
Meanwhile the quartet of Mathoho (skin abrasion), Hlatshwayo (ankle), Furman (groin) and Jali (shoulder dislocation) will be assessed at the squad’s final training session tonight (Monday, 27 March 2017) at Buffalo City Stadium.