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Sphelele "Pitso" Mkhulise hopes to emulate Percy Tau

Sphelele Mkhulise is determined to cement his place in the Sundowns first team.
Sphelele Mkhulise is determined to cement his place in the Sundowns first team.
Image: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images

Sphelele "Pitso" Mkhulise gets no special treatment from his coach Pitso Mosimane despite sharing a name with the hard-to-please Mamelodi Sundowns boss.

Mkhulise has had to work his socks off to get into the first team after making his way up through the academy ranks.

With Percy Tau having set the bar high for Sundowns academy players, Mkhulise is eager to make a name for himself too. "It's really hard to break into the first team. It's only a few players who are able to break into the first team and I am grateful that I have been able to do that," Mkhulise said.

"If he can do it then so can I. Seeing Percy doing well is a motivation. When he was still with Sundowns everyone saw how many hours he put into football and became the best player. He is doing wonders overseas and that is very encouraging."

The 23-year-old explained how he got the nickname Pitso. "Many people think I was named after coach Pitso or he is my dad or something," he chuckled. "I got the name when I was younger playing in my hometown and they used to call me Tso. After a while it changed a bit and people started calling me Pitso."

The youngster from Pietermaritzburg has made nine appearances and has scored one goal this season. For any young man who just finished high school, joining a team where you are surrounded by millionaire teammates is not an easy transition. However, Mkhulise says that his elder teammates have been nothing but inspiring to him.

"The guys are humble and give me the support that allows me to do well. There are no egos, we are one happy family here. The guys accepted me with both arms when I was promoted to the first team. My teammates don't behave like superstars or anything, they are good people."

Mkhulise will hope for more game time this weekend when Sundowns travel to Lamontville Golden Arrows for a Telkom Knockout semifinal (Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium, 3pm).

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