‘It was my time’: Saleng

Monnapule Saleng scored the winner in the MTN8 and set up the goal which clinched the Nedbank Cup over the weekend and, according to him, it’s only just the beginning as he plans to get even better next season.

The Orlando Pirates winger was reluctant to speak to the media after the Nedbank Cup final on Saturday night at Loftus Stadium, but that’s simply because Saleng prefers to do his talking on the pitch. It was his assist that set up Terrence Dzvukamanja for the winning goal in the cup final at Loftus Stadium on Saturday, as the Buccaneers sealed the victory in stoppage to end the season with two titles to display in the cabinet.

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Saleng, who won the DStv Premiership Players’ Player of the Season and MTN8 last man standing award last night, missed the first two months of the season because he was not able to break into the matchday squad after returning to Pirates from a loan spell with Swallows FC last term. When he got his opportunity to play his first match for the Buccaneers in October, the 25-year-old made sure that head coach Jose Riveiro would never leave him out of the matchday squad again.

“For me, I want to thank God and thank everyone who has helped me to be where I am. I would like to thank Pirates for going out on loan to Swallows because it helped me and I was able to adapt to the PSL. When I came back, I had adjusted, so it was easy to adjust at a big club like Pirates. Even though I did not start the season well, I was patient and I told myself that I will get my chance. I got my chance and I used it and I was able to help the team where I could. You know Pirates is a team of history and, as a person, you tell yourself that you will make your own history and also help Pirates to build on their history,” Saleng told media after the final.

Saleng also gave a shout-out to Bucs coach Jose Riveiro, who just completed his first season in South African football with two knockout competitions and a second-place finish in the DStv Premiership, which guarantees CAF Champions League football next term.

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“I must also thank the coach. He struggled a bit to adapt, but he was patient with us, until we adapted to the style he wanted us to play with. I am happy for him and I am happy for the chairman (Irvin Khoza) who believed in me. I am happy that the senior players helped me. They kept on pushing me. They could see the potential and at least I did not throw their words away. I took them and kept them with me by doing extra training and pushing myself. I believe that helped. I want to thank God because maybe it was my time. As I was saying, hard work and extra training helped me. I am someone who likes goals. I am a winger, but I like scoring. I like scoring and that’s why things are happening the way they are happening because I am hungry, especially when we go forward.”

Saleng is nowhere near done. That means expect an even more determined display from him next season as he looks to inspire the Buccaneers to success next term.

“I am going to maintain it because I am a hard worker. I am not going to relax. I have to work harder than I did this season. I want to work on my stats so that they are higher next season.”

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