SuperSport United head coach Gavin Hunt says Phakamani Mahlambi is the biggest waste of talent that probably should be playing for Bafana Bafana right now.
While Hunt was open about his dramatic fall from grace, which he dubbed him as the next Benni McCarthy to virtually retiring before the age of 27 – he revealed how his off-the-field lifestyle led to his rapid decline.
Mahlambi made his professional breakthrough under Hunt during their time at the now-defunct Bidvest Wits and shot to prominence with 10 goals and 10 assists in his first 34 games in senior football.
It earned the then-teenager a R25-million transfer to Al Ahly where he struggled to adapt and his fortunes didn’t seem to change when he returned to South Africa with Mamelodi Sundowns, AmaZulu and Chippa United.
“Biggest disgrace, biggest waste of talent, biggest disgrace, obviously we had him in our Diski team, with Glen Salmon, he was the coach,” Hunt told This Is Football Africa.
“He played wide for Glen and I told Glen I think he’s a striker, a number nine, a running number nine, he can work a channel, he is so quick.
“I took him in the first team, played him up front – first game away to Platinum Stars as a nine, he scored a hattrick, I said there you go. Then we played Al Ahly in the Champions League, 70,000 people.
“Remember [Wael] Gomaa, the bald head? He ran him ragged, he had to pay to come back in the ground, he ran behind him, over him − and they ended up signing him. Great move, his salary went from I don’t know, like R20,000 to I don’t know R500,000 a month.
“But they put him in a hotel in Egypt, there’s only one way [down]. Then he comes back, Sundowns – falls out there… then I go to Chippa, I take him there, let’s have some fun in the sun, let’s go down to the beach. He plays the first game there against Pirates, scores a goal, 10 kilos overweight, the second game he plays, he snaps he Achilles tendon against Stellenbosch, out for the season. The I came back to SuperSport, he phoned me asking to train.
“I said Phakamani, you don’t need six weeks, you need six months − I said but we can get you right in eight weeks − so no football, I have him pulling tyres, shedding weight, he was losing weight [fast] and then he just stops.
“He said no I can’t do this anymore, he fell out of love with the game, he’s  years old, disgrace, he should be in the national team.”
Hunt then opened up about a story where he allegedly racked up a staggering bill at a restaurant which was likely insight into where it all went wrong for the two-time capped Bafana forward – who made his international debut back in 2017 under Owen da Gama.
“I was at a restaurant a couple of years ago, he was at Al Ahly, he left us, they were having a good time, six mates, they always have mates because they have money – anyway, I call the waiter over, I asked what’s the bill over there, he said R45,000,” Hunt explained.
“The bill, R45,000 so far − they were drinking Hennesseys, and he’s 21 years old. It was R45,000. I told him if you serve another drink there, I will personally [beat you up]. You cancel the bill and get them out. He obviously paid and then went somewhere else. But that’s what I’m trying to tell you − where is your mentality, I tried to speak to the boy but ya . . . ” − FarPost.