Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi recalls how he went to great lengths to sign a then unknown Monnapule Saleng on loan from Orlando Pirates last season.
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Saleng, after finishing as the top goal scorer in the GladAfrica Championship (now Motsepe Foundation Championship) was snapped up by the Buccaneers at the start of the 2021/22 season, although he did not fit into the plans of then head coach Josef Zinnbauer, who immediately sent him out on loan to Swallows FC.
But the back story of Saleng’s journey to the Birds nest is even more incredible and it required personal intervention from Lesufi, who served as Swallows President at the time.
He details how he personally drove to Rustenburg to pick the player up, while simultaneously bucking the trend to ensure the speedster was well accommodated.
“To have the Saleng that we never had in that team and for him to be a contender for player and midfielder of the season is heart-warming, he told the media at the Nedbank Cup final joint press conference.
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“I remember when I went to Pirates and I asked for Saleng, Floyd [Mbhele] at that time even asked me ‘who’s that?” because they just brought him from Free State Stars at that time and the technical team were not sure and they said, 'Let’s take him to training first and after that we’ll decide if we’ll release him'. I waited for that call and it came through because they were camping outside Gauteng, and they said, 'Come and take your Saleng'. I personally drove to go and take my Saleng.
“It’s not a policy of the team that I support to organize accommodation, but I personally organized his accommodation and transport to training and back because I knew he is a gem. So, to see him now, almost a top goal scorer, for him to be a contender for player and midfielder of the season is heart-warming.”
Saleng managed two goals and two assists in 29 matches for the Birds, but it was enough for Pirates to recall him, which turned out to be a masterstroke as he managed 15 goals and 10 assists in all competitions this season.
His magnificent season has seen him being nominated for the Soccer Laduma Player of the Season award. you can vote for your Soccer Laduma Player of the Season, in partnership with Schick, and stand a chance to WIN one of four R500 shopping vouchers weekly! And a Grand prize of R2,000!
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