Cape Town - South Africa’s young sensation Phakamani Mahlambi can’t wait to don the Bafana Bafana jersey.
The 19-year-old played a key role in helping the South African under-20 Men’s National Team (Amajita) qualify for the 2017 FIFA under-20 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.
The attacking midfielder did not get to play in the 3-1 win over Guinea-Bissau but fancies his chances in the clash against Angola on Tuesday, March 28 at Buffalo City Stadium in East London.
“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,” said Mahlambi as quoted by the official SAFA account.
“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.”
The other youngster also called up to the Bafana Bafana squad is Portugal-based Luther Singh, who is Mahlambi’s team-mate 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 under-20 World Cup, for us being in the Bafana Bafana squad is a learning period where we need to get some experience to the under-20 squad because we want to win that tournament and not make up the numbers,” added Mahlambi.
South Africa have previously faced Angola on 12 occasions, winning eight times and drawing three matches while Palancas Negras have only defeated South Africa once.
However, Mahlambi is confident that Bafana Bafana can continue their good record against Angola on Tuesday night.
“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,” said Mahlambi.
“I don’t think the changes that are expected in the team will affect us much because everyone is performing so well.
Having beaten Guinea-Bissau convincingly in Durban, Mahlambi does 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.”
Kick off is at 19:00.