I’m not Benni McCarthy‚ I’m Phakamani,’ says Wits teenager

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Bidvest Wits forward Phakamani Mahlambi is now enjoying playing as a striker‚ though it was initially not his preferred position.

The 18-year-old‚ who has four goals and has three assists to his name this season‚ has rejected his coach Gavin Hunt’s comparison of him to former Bafana Bafana striker Benni McCarthy.

But the gifted teenager does agree with Hunt that a striker’s role is suitable for him.

“I’m not Benni McCarthy‚ I’m Phakamani‚” he says.

Mahlambi became a “Clever Boy” early last year after arriving from the School of Excellence and was promoted from Wits’ youth team after just six months.

The November-December PSL Player of the Month admits that he didn’t see himself enjoying his game as a striker‚ but now feels things have worked out quite well.

“It was not easy at the beginning. When I arrived there were people in my position‚ so I had to work hard to get my place — that I did as you can see.

“I preferred to play at right wing‚ but the coach changed me and played me as a striker…It was a big thing for me winning Player of the Month and now I’m looking forward to playing more games that will benefit the team‚” Mahlambi stated.

Speculation is rife that there is overseas interest in the Vryheid-born youngster and the most recent report suggests that Spanish outfit Altetico Madrid is monitoring him‚ but Mahlambi says nothing has been discussed with his employers.

“In terms of my future‚ my team hasn’t told me anything about that so I’m still fine at Wits and everything is going well‚” he adds.

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