Bafana Bafana’s Mihlali Mayambela is living the dream playing in Europa League

Bafana Bafana’s Mihlali Mayambela is loving playing in the Europa League. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Bafana Bafana’s Mihlali Mayambela is loving playing in the Europa League. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Published Oct 13, 2023


Mihlali Mayambela is living the dream by playing in the Europa League, even though he is eyeing a jump to the Champions League in future.

Mayambela had a maiden season to remember with Aris Limassol in the Cypriot top flight last season, guiding the team to the league title. He didn’t stop there, though.

The Cape Town-born player ensured that they qualified for the Europa League after coming short in the Champions League qualifiers.

Aris have had a mixed start in the Europa, though.

They lost their opener to Sparta Prague, before redeeming themselves with a win over Rangers at home.

But having started in both matches, it was a dream come true for Mayambela as he always dreamt of playing against some of the best players in the world.

“It’s great, honestly. I never imagined that I’d be at that stage and play in the Europa League,” Mayambela said ahead of Bafana Bafana’s clash against Eswatini at FNB Stadium today (6pm kickoff).

“When a dream comes a reality, it becomes something else. I am happy to be there and take these moments that I’ve been getting so far.

“For me, I think the most important thing is to continue to enjoy (it) – regardless of what happens, good or bad games, and take what I can take with me.”

But while Mayambela is enjoying himself in the Europa League, he wants to play in the Champions League one day.

“I would like to play in the Champions League since I am playing in the Europa. As a team, we also wanted to qualify for the Champions League,” he said.

However, such is his burning desire to improve as a player, Mayambela won’t just settle for a move as he needs some assurances.

“But most importantly, I would like to be where I’m playing and improving.

“I don’t want to go somewhere just to be there to add numbers,” Mayambela said.

“What makes me happy is to play and improve each time. And that’s the most important thing for me in my career. But yes, I’d like to play in the Champions League.”

Mayambela’s urge to play should be fulfilled by Bafana coach

Hugo Broos when they play in two international friendlies against Eswatini (today) and Ivory Coast (on Tuesday).

Bafana have struggled to pull crowds for their home games, something that was embarrassing against Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo last month.

And with Bafana set to host Eswatini before flying out to face 2023 Africa Cup of Nations hosts Ivory Coast away, there is a chance that they will play in front of empty seats.

That doesn’t bode well for someone like Mayambela, who is used to playing in front of a full house in Europe.

But he explained what he thinks can turn things around.

“Yeah, of course you want to play at a full stadium with your people (the supporters) behind you,” Mayambela said.

“In Liberia, we only went for a pitch inspection, and it was already full. We wish for that, and we would like that as the national team as well.

“But what I think is most important is to continue doing our jobs and win the games. And hopefully, things will turn around. We don’t play against fans at home.”