We've got news for you.

Register on SowetanLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

Benni McCarthy explains Phakamani Mahlambi’s absence at AmaZulu

Sazi Hadebe Sports reporter
Phakamani Mahlambi is struggling for game time on loan at AmaZulu from Mamelodi Sundowns.
Phakamani Mahlambi is struggling for game time on loan at AmaZulu from Mamelodi Sundowns.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Benni McCarthy has explained why on-loan Mamelodi Sundowns attacker Phakamani Mahlambi is battling for game time at AmaZulu‚ saying the speedy‚ nimbi-footed winger has to work harder in order to earn his spot in the high-flying Durban club.

McCarthy was answering questions after he steered Usuthu to an impressive 2-1 win over Kaizer Chiefs at the FNB Stadium on Wednesday‚ a victory that cemented AmaZulu’s position in the top half of the DStv Premiership.

Under the former Bafana Bafana striker AmaZulu are now placed sixth with 25 points after 17 outings having gone on an a run of 10 matches that comprises five wins‚ four draws and one defeat‚ which was ironically against Chiefs in McCarthy’s third game in charge.

Mahlambi‚ who won three league titles with Sundowns‚ is yet to feature in Usuthu’s line-up since McCarthy took over from Ayanda Dlamini at the end of last year. He last played 32 minutes in Dlamini’s last match on December 16 when Usuthu lost 2-0 against neighbours Lamontville Golden Arrows.

“I’m not a person who has anything against anyone‚” McCarthy started‚ answering a question on Mahlambi’s lack of game time since joining AmaZulu at the beginning of the 2020-21 campaign.

“I think players have to pace themselves and with me it’s hard work over talent and I’ve said that all the time.

“You know if you have talent in abundance you have to match that with hard work. And if I don’t see players give me what I’m looking for and there are players willing to sweat blood and tears‚ I’m going for that.

“So players need to understand that you need to work hard. You can have all the talent in the world but you still have to work hard.”

Mahlambi has former Arrows player Siphelele Magubane and Zambian international Augustine Mulenga among those he’s fighting for a place with in the AmaZulu frontline out wide and so far he’s failed to get ahead of them.

“I’m not saying he’s [Mahlambi] not working hard but there’s players working exceptionally hard and that’s why they’re finding themselves in the team‚” McCarthy clarified.

“If you’re not in the team it’s because of maybe you’re not doing enough and you need to just match the effort of the players that are on the pitch‚ unfortunately.

“That’s how I work‚ there’s no favouritism and there’s no bias‚ it’s pure hard work‚ then talent. It’s hard work that would play and that’s how I am and I am never going to change.

“If you’re a player and you think you’ve got the world’s best talent and you think your teammates must work for you and you don’t work hard enough‚ than I’m not your kind of coach.

“[Then] I’m not a coach you want to play under – here we combine talent with hard work.”

After gaining four points in their trip to Johannesburg‚ McCarthy and his team will get a breather before their next league fixture on March 2 where they’ll host SuperSport United‚ three days after meeting Black Leopards in Thohoyandou in the last-16 of the Nedbank Cup.