JOHANNESBURG - Katlego Mphela is ready to pick up the mantle as the leader of South Africa's attack for the World Cup, he said on Thursday.
After the surprise omission of the country's all-time leading scorer Benni McCarthy from the 23-man squad, Mphela is the player the hosts will turn to for goals starting with next Friday's opening match against Mexico in Johannesburg.
"It does put a bit of pressure on my shoulders but I can handle it," the Mamelodi Sundowns striker told Reuters in an interview.
Mphela has been the main front-man in South Africa's recent warm-up matches.
"The coach (Carlos Alberto Perreira) plays me each game which means he has faith in me and believes in me," said the 25-year-old. "It is up to me now to try and believe in myself and get more goals.
"I've scored three goals in my last three games. I am feeling a lot more confident especially scoring right now before the World Cup. It has come at the right moment."
Mphela has netted five times in his last four outings, taking his overall tally to 14 goals in 31 internationals.
"This World Cup for us is going to be all about team work, it's not going to be about me or anyone else because we are not a team of Ronaldos or Ronaldinhos," he said.
"Key for us is we have been training together for the last three months. The other teams have only just started preparing, two weeks before the World Cup.
"Fitness will be a key point for us. I have lost five kilos since the camp started, I'm in the best shape of my career," added Mphela.
The striker has long been touted as a potential match-winner since being whisked away as a teenager to play in France before he had even appeared in the South African Premier League.
Mphela though failed to make the grade at Racing Strasbourg, returning home three seasons ago.
He finished the recent campaign as the top scorer in the Premier League and is now in line to fulfil the earlier predictions of his potential.comments