Hlanti bracing for a bruising battle with Bafana rival Langerman
Sifiso Hlanti will continue to work on his game to try to unseat Tebogo Langerman in the Bafana Bafana left-back position‚ the defender has said.
Hlanti has enjoyed a meteoric rise relatively late in his career at 27.
Two seasons ago he had been playing for AmaZulu in the National First Division for six months‚ after their relegation from the Premier League at the end of the 2014-15 season.
In January 2016 Hlanti signed for Wits and soon coach Gavin Hunt found in the big left-back a quality defender capable of attacking forcefully on the overlap.
He made his Bafana Bafana breakthrough with a fine performance in the 0-0 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying draw against Cameroon in Durban in March 2016.
Last week Hlanti won Hunt’s Coach’s Award at Wits’ prize-giving in Midrand for his role in their first league title in their 96-year history in 2016-17.
Hlanti‚ called up to the national squad for last month’s 2-0 2019 Afcon qualifying win against Nigeria‚ said he enjoys a good relationship with Langerman‚ the starter for Bafana in that victory.
Langerman has an advantage at the moment of the experience he has gained continentally and internationally for African champions Mamelodi Sundowns.
With Wits tipped to progress well in next year’s Caf Champions League‚ Hlanti believes his own game can develop too.
“I will be happy to be in the Bafana squad for any game. The national team can give me a good platform where I can show my character and make things happen‚” the Wits player said.
“I respect whoever I’m competing with in that (left-back) position.
"It’s good for me as a person and a player to improve if I’m not good enough in certain aspects. I’m not afraid to face any challenge in the game.
“When I’m in the squad I always have a chat with everybody. For me‚ it’s not personal if Tebogo is in the starting XI. We have a good relationship.
“I will say there’s more coming from me on my side‚ because I’m learning from each game I play.
“I always tell myself to do more and put more effort so that I can keep making a step up.
“Gavin is a good coach.
"He will always want to see his players doing well. Since I’ve joined Wits I’ve learned a lot under him‚ and that shows the good character that he instills.
“My thinking when I left AmaZulu to join Wits was that this was an opportunity to see myself doing well in a team that’s always competing against the big guns like Sundowns‚ Pirates and Chiefs.”
Wits have returned to preseason training for the 2017-18 season.