For a player that promised so much in his debut season three years ago, Ayanda Dlamini has a lot to prove if he wants to fulfill all that early-career promise.
|Ayanda Dlamini © Backpagepix
The AmaZulu striker arrived on the Premier Soccer League (PSL) stage in some style at the start of the 2009/10 campaign when he scored on his debut in the MTN8 against SuperSport United.
It was the start of what turned out to be a fine maiden 12 months, in which he went on to score 12 goals in total, 10 of which came in the Absa Premiership.
That total was not even matched in the next 24 months for Usuthu and Dlamini is now determined to make things right in the season ahead, insisting it was not a case of getting swept off his feet after that superb induction.
“I recall that season fondly, having done so well,” he told PSL.co.za.
“Whenever a new player arrives in the PSL and does well, obviously there will be a lot of praise and hype surrounding him.
“It’s up to the player then to keep his feet on the ground, even though it’s hard, and try not to get carried away by those praises.
“It was always going to be a challenge after the first season to continue what I did. I’ve always remained humble, but there’s a few things that happened thereafter.”
So where did it go wrong for Dlamini?
“When the new coach came in, that didn’t help because I was played in a different position.
“I had to adapt and that took away my confidence as a striker. When coach Roger (Palmgren) came in and started using me in the (centre
forward) position I favour, I’ve had to adapt back again.
“Even though it has taken some time again, I’ve enjoyed that. At least now I know the confidence is getting there and now I have to work on scoring goals.”
Now in his fourth year as a senior professional, he has the first chance to rectify things this weekend when AmaZulu launch their MTN8 title ambitions against Moroka Swallows in Dobsonville.
It is the first time the club is featuring in the competition since that 2009/10 season when they reached the semi-finals.
“I would love to emulate that year again, maybe do even better,” he said. “Let’s hope that the MTN8 will bring me the luck that has been missing to go back to that same Ayanda Dlamini that I was in 2009.”
The Ulundi-born forward has refused to set any goal targets for the new season, saying only that he was targeting an improvement from last year when he netted four times in 22 starts.
“I don’t want to put any extra pressure on myself,” he said. “What I’d like to say is that I want to be a better player than I was last season. Not being specific, I want to try and score more than last season.”