Milutin Sredojevic has high hopes for Orlando Pirates teenager Augustine Mahlonoko
Posted: 7 August 2018 Time: 19:30
Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic believes record-breaking midfielder Augustine Mahlonoko can emulate legends such as Steve Lekoelea and Benedict Vilakazi.
The teenage attacker was brought on as a second-half substitute in Pirates' season opening Absa Premiership clash against Highlands Park on Saturday.
As a result, Mahlonoko became The Buccaneers' youngest debutant in the PSL era, at the age of just 16 years, 11 months and 18 days.
Mahlonoko - born on 17 August 2001 – beat the record previously held by striker Lyle Foster, who made his first team debut at age 17 years and 12 days against Maritzburg United on 15 September last year.
Other teenage debutants for the Houghton-based outfit included Lebohang 'Cheeseboy' Mokoena, who made his first professional appearance at 17 years and three months against Santos back in November 2003, and 'Tso' Vilakazi at 17 years and six months against Nelspruit City Black Swallows in February 2000.
Sredojevic, meanwhile, has explained the decision to throw Mahlonoko on for his debut just one day after his promotion from the SAB League team was announced by the club.
"Do you know that he started the first pre-season match against Acornbush United? Do you know he started the match against TP Mazembe and played 45 minutes? It is not coming from the sky with a parachute and he comes in the team – no,” explained ‘Micho’.
“It is a process that we are extremely responsible for on this side and respecting the badge, 80 years of history, all our supporters, and we use common sense, language of acts and sports logic.
“I believe Mahlonoko is the type of player that, with time and age being on his side, he has extraordinary vision.”
The Serbian tactician also reflected on some of Europe’s greats of his time who made their debuts at an early age, and backs the youngster to make his mark at the club in time.
“I still remember, as a witness from some time back, players like Zvonimir Boban and Robert Prosinečki; I remember how Roberto Baggio and Francesco Totti started. I need to say, yes, we dropped two points, but one huge win was giving a chance to him,” he added.
“Because, with time and if we keep him firmly on the ground, focused on improving this extraordinary vision that he has, he can be a natural replacement for some Pirates greats like Steve Lekoelea, Tso Vilakazi and others.”