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I want to play overseas and be a Bafana regular, says Orlando Pirates’ Monnapule Saleng

I want to play overseas and be a Bafana regular, says Orlando Pirates’ Monnapule Saleng

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Johannesburg — Monnapule Saleng had a fantastic first half of the season at Orlando Pirates and he’s eager to take his career up a notch by becoming a Bafana Bafana regular.

Two seasons ago, Saleng bagged the Golden Boot award in the First National Division thanks to his trickery, speed and eye for goal at Free State Stars.

That prompted Pirates to sign him, but he didn’t become an instant fit at the club – which saw him loaned out to Swallows for the rest of the campaign.

Saleng, though, was so good at Swallows that he booked a one-way ticket back to the Bucs, where he’s working with a new coach in Jose Riveiro.

Life at Pirates got off to a slow start for Saleng, but when he got a rare start in the MTN8 semi-final against Mamelodi Sundowns, he seized the opportunity.

By the end of the first half of the season, Saleng had made eight appearances and scored five goals for Pirates – including their winner in the MTN8 final.

His performances were rewarded by Bafana coach Hugo Broos, who included him for the two friendlies against Mozambique and Angola this week.

Bafana are using the two friendlies to prepare for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Liberia in March, making this current squad very important.

So, knowing the importance of being part of the next camp, Saleng is hoping to impress from the outset in Mbombela and become a first-choice figure.

“My biggest dream is to play overseas and to be a regular in the national team. And that’s why I must work harder,” Saleng told the Safa Media department ahead of tomorrow’s clash against Mozambique at Mbombela Stadium (8.30pm kick-off).

Contrary to popular belief, this is not Saleng’s first Bafana call-up – he was part of the team that won the Cosafa Cup in Gqeberha late last year.

But, of course, it’s bigger this time around, given what’s at stake and working with Bafana’s coach, who was away then, for the first time.

“I think every player is thrilled to be part of the national team. So, I am happy to be here as well, considering that I was at the Cosafa Cup before,” he said.

“I had to work hard to return to the national team. It’s a camp each player wants to be part of. I am happy, and the guys are also happy for me.”

Things might be looking up for Saleng, but he didn’t expect to play for Pirates in the last two years, given that Kaizer Chiefs’ scouts were eyeing him at Stars.

“I was meant to play for Chiefs because there was a scout from the club that was tracking me while I was still at Free State Stars,” Saleng (24) explained.

“I don’t know what happened. In the end, I ended up playing for Pirates. I could have played for Chiefs after Free State Stars, but they (Chiefs) delayed.”

And that would have been a dream come true for Saleng, after he said that he grew up supporting Amakhosi.


IOL Sport

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