South Africa’s u19 will face PSG Eindhoven in the first semifinal of the Durban u19 International Tournament on Wednesday 5 August 2015 at King Zwelinthini Stadium. SAFA media took some out to speak to Lehlohonolo Mtshali ahead to the much anticipated encounter.
NM: Hloni thank you for taking time to speak to us, now this is your first time in the national team set up, how has the experience been this far?
LM: I would firstly like to thank the Association and technical team for giving me this opportunity, it is an honour to be in the national team because it is every footballers dream to represent their country. The experience thus far has been exceptional, we are playing against international clubs and this is a different level compared to local clubs. The intensity of the matches is very high and challenging for U.S. players which I believe will benefit us tremendously.
NM: You are the captain of the national u19 squad, how did you feel when Coach Thabo made this announcement and what are some of your roles as a captain?
LM: I was very shocked but happy at the same time when the announcement was made, in fact I was speechless and the first thing they asked from was a speech, which I couldn’t deliver….lol….A captain in my understanding is someone who acts as the middleman between the technical staff and the players, a captain also has to be the leader of the team on the field of play but also during the camp itself. I believe the coaches saw these abilities in me and I am honoured and proud to lead this team through this tournament and hopefully to the final come Saturday.
NM: In the tournament you guys started off slow getting a draw in your opening match and a loss in the second, how did you and your teammates manage to win against AC Milan and what were some of the discussions you had with the team prior to the match?
LM: Eish ja, we did start off with cold feet I must be honest. Personally I was very nervous in the opening game and I believe so were my teammates but we had to remind ourselves that we are here because we are worthy of it, we a footballers and that’s what we do we play football. Our objective coming to Durban was to win the Durban u19 Tournament and even though we started off slow we kept the faith of our objective and here we are in the semifinals. As the captain I had to keep pushing the boys and ensuring that the mood in the camp was positive so that we could display positive football.
NM: Now you guys have played against some pretty impressive international clubs Stuttgart, Galatasaray and AC Milan to mention a few which was the most challenging and what is your favourite overseas club and why?
LM: Although we haven’t played them I like the Arsenal team, they play very similar to us. Stuttgart has by far been our toughest match.
NM: Let’s talk about the local season ahead, you will be playing the Multi Choice Diski Challenge with Orlando Pirates, what are your thoughts and what do you want to achieve?
LM: I can’t wait hey, it’s not going to be easy because my club is a big team so I will have to fight for my position and I would love for my team to win the tournament and for me to gain promotion to the first team.
NM: I wish you all the best. I want to ask about the media side of football now. You have done a few interviews live on TV but you were very nervous the first time round but you seem to have gotten better at it. What do you believe should be done to train players to perform better with interviews?
LM: All teams have media departments so I think once a month we need to have sessions with those department to enhance our abilities as true professionals.