One-time Bafana Bafana and Mamelodi Sundowns scoring ace Katlego Mphela could revive his international career by signing for newly promoted English Premiership club Hull City.
This was the view expressed today by Bafana coach Gordon Igesund following persistent reports that Hull manager and former Manchester United captain Steve Bruce is keen on securing the services of the player whose goal-scoring talents earned him the nickname “Killer”.
The 28-year-old Mphela, with 23 goals from 47 international appearances, is Bafana’s third-highest scorer behind Benni McCarthy and Shaun Bartlett, and was poised to take over the top spot two years ago.
Perhaps the most indelible scoring effort of his career was the stunning free kick from 30m for Bafana that almost enabled South Africa to snatch third place from Spain during the 2009 Confederations Cup.
A succession of injuries and wavering form, however, resulted in Mphela scoring only three goals for Sundowns during a turbulent 2012/13 season in which he surrendered his position in the Bafana line-up and was generally only a shadow of the lethal striker who has scored 46 goals from his 110 appearances for Sundowns.
“The reports about Mphela’s pending departure for England have not been substantiated as far as I know,” said Igesund, “but if he ends up playing regularly in the highly competitive English Premier League under a manager of Steve Bruce’s stature, it could well be the doorway to returning back to the Bafana fold.
“The old Mphela, who at one stage was the foremost striker in the country, would certainly be a major boost for Bafana,” said Igesund.
The coach said he believed the recurring injuries were the main reason for Mphela’s fall from grace and if he was fully fit he could well return to his position of eminence.
“However,” said Igesund, “making a comeback is sometimes more difficult than making the grade in the first place, and determination, self-belief and confidence are essential to overcome the setbacks.”
Meanwhile, Sundowns have announced that they would be prepared to release Mphela to Hull if an offer was received from the Premiership club.
But a statement from the Pretoria PSL club emphasised that no formal request had yet been received from Hull.
“We know that the stories about Mphela being targeted by Hull, which first emanated from England, are spreading like wildfire,” said the Sundowns’ statement, “and we are awaiting developments.
“We know that Katlego is keen to resume his career overseas, where he has played with a good deal of success, and we will not stand in his way.
“The ball is now in Hull’s court and we’re waiting for any developments with a good deal of interest.”
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