Mahlambi’s favourite players to watch on TV, and what he learns from themWatching the best teams in the world and learning from their tactics and the technical ability of the team as well as individual players is a great way to learn new things and apply it to your own game.
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal and Chile)
Why: Mahlambi says that he enjoys watching Alexis Sanchez and feels that there are some similarities between the Arsenal player’s game and his own.
“With Sanchez it is his all-round technique that is very important to watch. He is well-rounded and can do pretty much everything there is to do for an attacking player. He has physical speed, with and without the ball, and he is fast in his mind – he is always thinking and a step ahead of opponents, which gives him an edge. Also, the quality of his passing, crossing and shooting – this is great to watch because when he has the ball you know something will happen all the time. He presents a danger to the opponents because whatever he does he can find a teammate in a good scoring position or shoot himself and has the ability to beat goalkeepers from different ranges, both feet,” he says.
Raphaël Varane (Real Madrid and France)
Why: Even though Mahlambi is not a defender he likes to watch some of the better defenders on the planet in order to understand their thinking, so that when he faces defensive opponents he can try to be one step ahead.
“That guy Varane, the centre back of Real Madrid, he has such great timing so players can’t just pass him (by). I do watch defenders in the PSL, those that I come up against in my job here at Bidvest Wits, but I do watch Varane a lot because he’s the one in the world that motivates me to do better, because he has everything from the timing of his tackles, his jumps, the runs he makes all the way to the quality of his passing and positional play,” he says.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid and Portugal)
Why: Ronaldo is a world superstar and his individual game is refined. He has worked on his strengths and also made sure that he has very few weaknesses.
“I’ve always watched Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo in particular. I know everything he does and how he does it, just from watching and studying how he plays. Ronaldo comes up with new ways of beating his opponents and this is why he is a good model to follow. He uses both feet, he has speed and power and he can dribble with a variety of techniques. When he comes up with something new, I watch and then practice myself. He is a hard working player and is always motivated to build his physique for more power and strength, and I want to continue doing the same in this area,” Phakamani says.