Pienaar’s immense experience can rub off on Mahlambi‚ says Hunt

Free agent Steven Pienaar. Picture credits: Gallo Images
Free agent Steven Pienaar. Picture credits: Gallo Images

Steven Pienaar does not just bring playing class to Bidvest Wits‚ but also an encyclopedia of experience and knowledge that can rub off on some of the club’ youngsters‚ especially forward prodigy Phakamani Mahlambi.

Mahlambi won the Premier Soccer League’s Young Player of the Season award this week despite having missed the first half of the 2016-17 season injured.

The 19-year-old tearaway then flew to Portugal for three weeks of trials. Should Mahlambi not make it just yet in Europe‚ one of the country’s brightest attacking talents will return to a Wits side where Pienaar his signed after 16 years playing at the highest level in Europe.

Wits coach Gavin Hunt said the professionalism Pienaar (35)‚ and also Daylon Claasen‚ who has joined the Clever Boys after nine years in Europe‚ can impart on youngsters such as Mahlambi and SA Under-20 right-back Reeve Frosler‚ was part of his reason for signing those players.

“You watch Daylon‚ you watch Steven – you watch these guys train. It rubs off‚” Hunt said.

“And these players will run the dressing-room. They will make sure that these players are working hard.

“And that’s what I do. I’ve done it everywhere I’ve been. It’s important for a team.

“The coach mustn’t coach a team. The players must run the team.”

Midfielder Daine Klate said the influence Pienaar can have on Wits’ youngsters can be worth the ex-Ajax‚ Borussia Dortmund‚ Everton and Sunderland midfielder’s wage bill.

“It’s all about taking it in‚ and obviously accepting information when people are going to advise you‚” Klate said.

“That’s the biggest thing for Phakamani. Because if he listens to the people around him‚ with the amount of talent that he has he can make a lot of money out of football.

“He should be looking to move to Europe as soon as he can to go and enrich himself‚ obviously football-wise‚ and financially.”

Asked how much managing Mahlambi needs at such a tender age‚ Hunt said: “He needs a lot.”

And on a concern the youngster can become big-headed at so many plaudits so early?

“No‚ No. he’s a good‚ fun-loving boy. He needs a lot of guidance. He’s raw‚” Hunt said.

“But he’s got exciting‚ huge ability. And if you can harness that ability and get him in the right environment‚ his potential is endless.

“He didn’t play the first round of last season for us. It was a blow.

“He came in for the second round‚ started off good and then faded a bit. He’s a young boy man – he needs time.”

- TimesLIVE