Tuesday, 8 November 2011

May Mahlangu: Sadly, South Africa's only current world class player won't be playing against the Ivory Coast on Saturday

When Bafana Bafana turn out for the Nelson Mandela Challenge against the Ivory Coast on Saturday, South Africa's best current player will be inexplicably absent.
While captain Steven Pienaar struggles to get a game for Spurs, centre-back Bongani Khumalo languishes on loan at Reading and veteran striker Benni McCarthy - 34 this week - has opted out of international football, May Mahlangu can rightly claim to be the Rainbow Nation's only world class player right now.
Currently plying his trade with Swedish outfit Helsingborgs IF, Mahlangu was awarded Sweden's Player of the Year accolade at a lavish ceremony on Monday night - barely 24 hours after scoring a wondergoal and being named Man of the Match in the Swedish Cup final last weekend.
While beleaguered Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane dithers over his selection to play Africa's No1 ranked side in Port Elizabeth this weekend, he continues to ignore Mahlangu, who has been selected for Shakes Mashaba's troubled Baby Bafana - the under 23 side formerly known as AmaGlugGlug are headed to the Olympics in London next year - for the pair of friendlies in Algeria on November 12 and 15. Sadly, due to "injuries" and "non-co-operation from the clubs" that squad currently boasts just eight players as of last night.
But that won't trouble Mahlangu, after a season which has seen his club win the Swedish League and Cup double for the first time since 1941. His performances alongside established star Adrian Gashi at the Olympia Stadium have been little short of sensational - a Scandinavian Lionel Messi some say.
Farouk Khan, the scout who first spotted Mahlangu as a talented but penniless orphan in Secunda, Mpumalanga over a decade ago, said on South Africa's 702 radio station this morning: "We spotted May early on. Both his parents had died so he came to live with us for six years.
"When Helsingborgs came along they were first interested in signing a certain striker called Siyabonga Nomvete, one of our players, about ten years ago. But when they arrived and saw the standard of our academy, they decided not to buy Nomvete and chose to invest in our teenagers instead."
Khan, who runs a scouting school known as the Stars of Africa Academy, also unearthed Tokelo Rantie, the Orlando Pirates super-sub who came to light a fortnight ago with a superb late winner against Jomo Cosmos in Port Elizabeth.
Khan added: "Helsingborgs helped us financially for some years before the Swedish Krona devalued and they had to pull out. But they always kept an eye on our youngsters. And then they asked May to go over and play. He made his debut in August 2009.
"It's been fabulous for him this season. He was the best player, never got substituted and he scored in their cup final, now he has been voted their player of the year by the players and the journalists.
"He isn't a big lad (173cm, 5ft 8in) but he is quick, very quick. And so fit. We did the usual tests on him and realised that if he wasn't a footballer, he could easily be a marathon runner. That's how impressive his fitness readings were. The best we have ever seen."
Fitness is only half of it. Last Sunday, May Sifiwe Mahlangu, 22 on May 1 (hence the name), produced that cup final super-strike, beating six defenders to find the net after starting a run from his own half as Helsingborgs beat rivals Kalmar FF 3-1 to complete a magnificent treble. They won the Super Cup at the start of the season and ran away with the Allsvenskan League title as Mahlangu played in every minute of the 26 games he was available for. His side lifted their first championship in 14 years without losing a home game and finished five points clear of nearest rivals AIK Solna as they secured a Champions League place for next season.
Helsingborg coach Conny Karlsson, installing him in the attacking midfield role at the start of the season after he played 19 games in his first term at the club, said he would build his squad around the unknown South African - and he never regretted a moment. Mahlangu scored five goals in 35 games and produced the most assists in the league.
Karlsson purred: "With Mahlangu, we have won everything you can win in Sweden this season. Somebody may match that one day, but you can't do any better."

Perhaps somebody should tell the unfortunate Pitso. While he attempts to juggle the same old bunch who failed (despite the glorious victory dance) to qualify for next year's African Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, Mahlangu and Ajax Amsterdam's Thulani Serero remain with the juniors. Curious.


  1. There's no point in playing Serero and Mahlangu in a pointless friendly when the U23s actually have something to play for, and clearly Shakes needs all the players he can get his hands on!

  2. True! I wish I believed Pitso's selection policies were as logical as that!

  3. In 6 months, May Mahlangu qualifies for Swedish citizenship.

  4. Great spot Lunga. Will twitter possible ramifications at www.twitter.com/nealcol

  5. Great article, lets hope his career will only go forward from here...He has achieved a lot.

  6. We wish the young man all the best, encouraged by his commitment to the country inspite of being snub by both coaches.

  7. We are very lucky to have May with us in Helsingborg, but he will propably move on to a bigger league next year. I just hope he will stay with us for the Champions League qualifications first. KING MAY!

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