Mlambo: I've been in this situation
Posted: 6 September 2017 Time: 09:01
Bidvest Wits midfielder Xola Mlambo refuses to feel discouraged by his situation and remains optimistic of breaking into the star-studded team.
Mlambo has found it hard to crack a nod from coach Gavin Hunt since the arrival of Granwald Scott midway through last season, and the additions of Steven Pienaar and Daylon Claasen have sent his name further down the pecking order.
The 26-year-old started the 2016/17 season brightly, helping Wits to the MTN8 title, before suffering an ankle injury in November last year.
His spell on the sidelines was extended after suffering a hamstring injury upon his return a month later and he was then replaced by Scott, who was brought in from a stint in Slovakia in January.
Mlambo then managed a few cameo appearances after regaining his fitness as The Clever Boys held out to clinch their maiden league title.
This season the former Chippa United pivot has yet to feature in any of Wits' games, but he insists he is not worried by his lack of opportunities.
“Honestly, nothing is really bothering me that much. As long as the guys can up their game and start winning games, it will then help the competition for people to improve their performances,” Mlambo tells KickOff.com.
“But I’ve been in such a situation before [and] I know how to deal with it. I know how to control and hold it, and it helps me to work even harder.
"I look forward to regaining my confidence and upping my fitness levels and all of that, [because] if you were to look back at [when I was at] Cape Town All Stars, I never even had one start.
“So it’s easy now to handle situations like this, control myself and push myself even harder.”
Mlambo, who can play in an attacking, holding or box-to-box midfield role, says he is gaining a lot just from training with the likes of Pienaar and Claasen.
“There’s quite a lot of things that you learn from playing with and against them in training, and watching them play [in games],” he adds.
“You can see the different type of football that they are playing, which is more or less different from the South African way.
“You also see the experience that they’ve gained abroad, so I get a lot of encouragement and motivation from the few things that I can learn from them.
“They can also learn one or two things from me because they’ve been out of South Africa for quite some time.”