Owen da Gama hopeful Phakamani Mahlambi can recover in time for Rio Olympics
Posted: 9 May 2016 Time: 10:24
South Africa Under-23 coach Owen da Gama remains hopeful Phakamani Mahlambi can still feature at the Rio Olympics in August.
The Bidvest Wits sensation tore an ACL in his club's 2-1 league win over University of Pretoria on February 19.
However, the 18-year-old is recovering well ahead of schedule, with Da Gama keeping an eye on the situation.
"Of course I am and we are monitoring the situation," Da Gama tells KickOff.com.
"He came in from the School of Excellence to Wits and Gavin, all credit must go to Gavin Hunt. He took a chance, he is playing the boy and he was just absolutely in fantastic form for Wits. It was easy to bring him to the team."
Mahlambi was one of Da Gama's star players in the team's third-place finish at last year's U-23 AFCON, which served as a qualifier for the Olympics.
Da Gama, though, believes the likes of NFD top scorer Thabiso Kutumela have shown there is adequate cover for Mahlambi. Kutumela has hit 17 goals for second-tier leaders Baroka FC this season.
"Yes I think we have," says Da Gama.
"Although we played him behind the strikers in some friendly matches, and that is Kutumela.
"He has scored 17 goals, so it gives him the opportunity to also raise his hand. But there is tremendous talent around... it is just absolutely unbelievable."
Da Gama has until July 14 to finalise his squad for the Olympics.