Johannesburg – Maritzburg United coach Ernst Middendorp has downplayed the hype around Monnapule Saleng, saying the Orlando Pirates winger is not yet the finished product as a footballer.
Saleng had an impressive first half of the season at Pirates, scoring five goals in eight matches as he steered the Sea Robbers to the MTN8 bounty.
That also impressed Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos, who called him up for the two friendlies against Mozambique and Angola at Mbombela Stadium.
Saleng started against Mozambique’s Mambas on Thursday night as Bafana came from behind to win 2-1, extending their winning streak to three matches.
The 24-year-old is expected to start on the bench against Angola in Bafana’s last friendly on Sunday, with Broos stressing that they want to rotate the team.
Speaking to Soccer Laduma this week, Kaizer Chiefs’ former coach Middendorp is not convinced that Saleng is a complete player.
“Look at Saleng. He played one good game and now he is a big star. Nonsense. He is a player with potential,” Middendorp said.
"But he needs to be able to understand that the future is in his own hands. You have to be strong, and you have to use your own individual brilliance.
"For example, Saleng’s body is not prepared for international competitions, no chance. Sanisa (Hlongwane) worked in the gym," Middendorp added.
"He (Hlongwane) understood what he had to do, additional training (during his time at Maritzburg United). He understood that he had to be stronger.”
With matches set to come thick and fast in the second half of the season, Saleng will be eager to prove he’s a real deal in Pirates’ search for more titles.
And should he achieve that, he could very well bag another Bafana call-up for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers against Liberia in March.