It is almost two years since May Mahlangu last donned the Bafana Bafana jersey – he last represented his country on 16 June 2013 (2014 World Cup Group A qualifier in Addis Ababa, which South Africa lost 2-1 against Ethiopia). A month later he suffered a career-threatening injury on the Achilles tendon which kept him out of the game for about a year. Upon his return to the game he ran into problems with SAFA which meant more time on the sidelines.
But he has since resolved the issue, and was called up into the current squad that will face Gambia on Saturday, 13 June in a CAF Orange Africa Cup of Nations Gabon 2017 qualifier. The clash will take place at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. Kick-off is at 15:00.
Mahlangu says: ‘I have been out of the national team for a very long time, and I am delighted to be back. It feels so good to be part of this team. Let’s not talk about the past and look to the future. I have said I am happy to be here and we have solved the issue so we can now move forward. Yes it was not lovely to miss out on the 2015 AFCON qualifiers and tournament because it is every player’s dream to help out their country but that is all in the past. Let us be positive about the game that is coming up which we are all looking forward to.’ Even though he has only been capped 13 times, the Turkey-based forward is one of the most experienced players in the current squad and hopes he will get a run on Saturday. He says: ‘Everyone is working hard, no one is special. The coach has told us to work hard to earn a place and wear the jersey with pride. You could see at our training session everyone is giving 100 percent and fighting for a place.’
The Konyaspor player is one of five overseas-based players in the 27-man squad – the others are Anele Ngcongca, Andile Jali, Ayanda Patosi (all Belgium) and Thulani Serero (Netherlands). Mahlangu says: ‘I believe the quality that we bring can make a change because some of the guys play in higher leagues and with their experience of the Europa League and UEFA Champions League, can add value to the national team. The level I am playing in in Turkey is higher than in Sweden where I used to be and I am glad I took that step and established myself in the big league, but then again there is always room for improvement.’ Having made his debut for Bafana Bafana in January of 2012 against Equatorial Guinea in an international friendly match, the midfielder has already scored two goals for his country.
In 2011 he was named Swedish League’s Player of the Season after helping Helsingborg to a league and cup in 2010.
Photo credit: AFP PHOTO / CARL DE SOUZA