Portuguese club made striker Mahlambi play at right-back for three weeks
Phakamani Mahlambi has come back from his Portuguese trial more worldly from the experience and hungry to transfer what he has learnt back to Bidvest Wits and the PSL‚ his coach Gavin Hunt has said.
Wits’ 19-year-old forward was deemed a future prospect not quite ready yet for football in Portugal after his three-week trial in the off-season at Vitoria Guimaraes.
Hunt said Mahlambi has returned more motivated than discouraged from the experience.
He said the youngster features as much as ever in the coach’s plans‚ starting in Sunday’s second leg of Wits’ MTN8 semifinal against Cape Town City at Bidvest Stadium‚ where the Clever Boys are at a 1-0 disadvantage from the away leg.
“No‚ he’s OK. He features (in my plans) a lot. I mean he’s a player who’s got great ability. He needs to fulfill that – there’s a lot of work to be done‚” Hunt said on Tuesday.
“But he’s OK. Mentally he’s fine. He’s the same lad that came here two years ago.”
Mahlambi has also been the subject of an approach by Cairo giants Al Ahly‚ a deal which‚ with the Egyptian transfer window only closing on September 14‚ might still go through.
The uncertainty over his future might be a distraction for the teen‚ but Hunt said the experience in Portugal had also given Mahlambi an indication of where his game needs to improve should he eventually aim to move to a good league in Europe.
“That’s why I sent him on the trial – to get a feel of how they do things in a European environment‚” Hunt said.
“The intensity is much more.
"They made him play right-back in the trials.
"And there’s a reason why they do that.
“He must learn how to defend‚ which is something that is not in his vocabulary or repertoire.
“They made him play right-back for three weeks.
"But those are things players need to understand about defending and all those types of things.
“I always say centrebacks make better strikers and strikers better centrebacks. If you go back to my day‚ Jingles Pereira was the best striker in South Africa.
"He played centreback for Kaizer Chiefs.
“And players need to understand that.”