Phakamani Mahlambi is the most promising football player in South Africa. The teenager has shown a lot of glimpses that are very surprising in the colours of Bidvest Wits University Football Club and the South African under 20 and under 23 national teams. Phakamani is very quick and can control the ball with both his feet.
According to Gavin Hunt, Phakamani is very quick and can run the entire 90 minutes without showing any signs of tiredness. Gavin compared Phakamani to Benni MacCarthy and indicated that the difference between Phakamani and the young Benni is that Phakamani is faster than the young Benni.
The 18-year-old burst onto the scene in the Absa Premiership last year after being given the nod by head coach, Gavin Hunt, however both his hopes for the season and the Olympic Games were dashed after he sustained a knee injury that required surgery.
Mahlambi’s problem is usually one that is solved by taking part of the hamstring to help repair the knee ligament, however that often results in the player losing some of his pace.
In order to stop the teenager losing his explosiveness – a critical part of his game – it was suggested that, rather than using his own hamstring, he used that of a family member, and his brother duly put himself forward. An incredible show of support for the South African youth international.
Speaking to FIFA TV about the situation, Mahlambi said, “They said the best operation is to take my father’s hamstring, but that was difficult for me because he’s too old for that. The other option they offered was to ask if one of my siblings could donate a hamstring for me, and my brother did that. He’s a good brother, a very good one.”
The process for his recovery is a long arduous one, and there is still a chance that he may not even play again in 2016, however, his brother’s sacrifice means that, when he does return, he may still have the pace that has been so crucial to his dramatic rise and growing reputation.
It is very sad for Phakamani to miss the Olympic Games which will be held in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in August this year. Phakamani was definitely going to be part of the men’s under 23 football national team that has qualified for the Olympic Games which are known as the Summer Games.
Another worrying factor on Mhlambi except injuries will be how he carries his fame and how he behaves socially. The most problems that our young promising football players encounter in their career are both fame and drinking. It does not need a rocket scientist to notice that the country has lost a lot of potential talent due to bad behavior. A lot of education is needed on these youngsters to make sure they are prepared for limelight.
We have lost the likes of Jabu Mahlangu, Steve Lekoelea, Junior Khanye, Thabiso Malatsi, Junaid Hartley and recently Masibusane Zongo of Platinum Stars Football Club, and a lot others due to the fact that they were never educated about fame and how to handle themselves in public. Drinking is not a problem, but how one behaves while drunk is the problem. We must do something about this issue as a country. We hope we do not lose Phakamani to the same problem.