Dan Malesela ‘would pick Xola Mlambo’ without blinking if he coached Bafana

Dan Malesela, head coach of Mpumalanga-based TS Galaxy, shows off his skills during a match.
Dan Malesela, head coach of Mpumalanga-based TS Galaxy, shows off his skills during a match.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

TS Galaxy coach and Orlando Pirates legend Dan Malesela has said that if he were Bafana Bafana coach he would not blink before selecting Buccaneers midfield star Xola Mlambo.

Malesela was previously Mlambo’s coach at Mamelodi Sundowns’ development side M-Tigers‚ then National First Division (NFD) Cape Town All Stars‚ and then again in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) with Chippa United.

He weighed in this week on the debate over whether in-form but enigmatic Mlambo should earn a call-up from Bafana coach Stuart Baxter.

Orlando Pirates' midfielder Xola Mlambo would be a Bafana Bafana regular if Dan Malesela was the national team's head coach.
Orlando Pirates' midfielder Xola Mlambo would be a Bafana Bafana regular if Dan Malesela was the national team's head coach.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

“One of the advices I give my players is that patience pays while you are learning. But patience will not pay if you don’t learn‚” 1980s Pirates captain and defender Malesela said.

“And I think the best thing about Xola Mlambo is that he learns every time. He listens.

“And I think he needs to have an understanding of what the demands of the national team are. If he’s got that‚ then he deserves to be in the national team.

“I must think he’s maturing. Maybe there are things that the national team coaches see that he lacks‚ that maybe somebody can advise him about. And he will eventually be in the national team.

“But‚ having said that‚ if I was coach of the national team I wouldn’t even blink – immediately [he would be in].

“By the way‚ it’s not because I coached him. I’m one‚ and he knows‚ who demands a lot from players. Sometimes I think I’m unreasonable and they think I’m unreasonable because I demand high‚ high quality.

“So‚ for him as well‚ I think it should be on merit. Everybody must play on merit‚ I don’t care who you are or where you come from.

“There’s also this notion that if somebody is playing overseas then they must be in the national team. It doesn’t matter.

“You need to know how they perform. And not just clips form somewhere. It must be live matches that you see.

“ … But‚ like I said‚ for me‚ if it was my decision I would play him. But coaches prefer different players‚ and different styles of play command what players they will chose for the national team.”

Malesela did add that there are areas in the game of Mlambo – known for drifting in and out of matches at times – that certainly need improvement.

“I think there’s more that he needs to do. I’m one of his biggest critics because we talk from time to time and he asks me about his game.

“There is one thing that I told him he needs to improve on‚ which is the marking part. Because he has a tendency of diving into tackles.

“And as much as I say that‚ every player would have a weakness. And that’s something that they need to concentrate on‚ because then he would complete his game.

“But having said that as well there are players who are very gifted who cannot mark. Players like Doctor Khumalo never used to mark‚ because they were gifted.

“So that’s one area I think he needs to work on and complete.

"The work-rate is there‚ everything‚ he chases – just winning the ball‚ being smart in terms of how you mark‚ how you destruct opponents is another thing.”

Malesela’s Galaxy meet fellow National First Division outfit Ajax Cape Town in the Nedbank Cup qualification round at Kameelrivier Stadium on Sunday.

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