Phakamani Mahlambi during his first training session with Al Ahly on Friday. Photo: @AlahlyEnglish via Twitter
Phakamani Mahlambi during his first training session with Al Ahly on Friday. Photo: @AlahlyEnglish via Twitter
Phakamani Mahlambi will celebrate his 20th birthday on Tuesday. Photo: @AlahlyEnglish via Twitter
Phakamani Mahlambi will celebrate his 20th birthday on Tuesday. Photo: @AlahlyEnglish via Twitter

CAIRO – Phakamani Mahlambi joined Al Ahly from Wits this weekend and will become the first South African footballer to play for an Egyptian club.

The four-year contract for the highly rated midfielder, who turns 20 on Tuesday, follows unsuccessful trials with Portuguese club Vitoria Guimaraes.

No other details of the deal between the Cairo and Johannesburg clubs were released, but a report said the contract was worth about R20 million to the South African.

“I am happy to be joining Ahly as they are one of the biggest clubs in Africa, and this step will be very important in my career,” Mahlambi told reporters in Cairo.

“There were many offers for me to consider, including one from African champions Mamelodi Sundowns.”

Zamalek, Cairo neighbours and bitter rivals of Ahly, were also reportedly interested in the attacking midfielder.

His transfer follows a ground-breaking move in the opposite direction, with striker Amr Gamal leaving Ahly for Wits on a one-year loan with an option to buy.

Last month, he became the first Egyptian to play for a South African club.

Mahlambi is leaving the most successful South African club last season for the most decorated club in Caf competitions.

Wits won the league for the first time in their 96-year history, and also a lucrative knockout competition.

Ahly have won a record 19 Caf titles, including the Champions League (eight), Super Cup (six), African Cup Winners Cup (four) and Confederation Cup (one).  

The Cairo outfit hope Mahlambi can have a similarly successful impact as two other signings from southern Africa.

Striker Flavio and midfielder Gilberto from Angola were part of the Ahly squad that reached four consecutive Champions League finals between 2005 and 2008, winning three.