BLACK Leopards and Lesotho international Tumelo Khutlang who scored on his debut for the South African club last weekend says he wanted to make a bold statement with his first league appearance.
Khutlang scored the second goal for Leopards in the 2-2 draw against Chippa United to get a dream debut for the Limpopo outfit
The 25-year old winger admitted that he had goose bumps after he was told by his coaches on last Thursday that he was in the starting line-up for Saturday’s game.
“It was not easy at all,” Khutlanga said.
“However, what helped me is that the coaches prepared me well in time because they told me on two days before the game that I would be in the starting line-up.
“I trained for the remaining sessions fully aware that I would be in the starting team and the support that the coaches and my teammates gave me helped me settle in the game.
“I struggled in the opening minutes of the game because playing at this level is not as easy as it appears on TV but my teammates and the coaches told me to play my normal football.”
The left footed midfielder said he has set himself high standards and would want to play all the games for Lidoda Duvha as Leopards is affectionately known.
“I was scared, but at the same time excited. I told myself that it was time for those who do not know about Lesotho to know that we also have soccer talent. I wanted to make a statement to those that have in the past undermined players from our country and I am happy that I did my job.
“I also needed to repay Leopards for the opportunity that they gave me to play at this level and I will grab it with both hands.
“I want to use my time here as a stepping stone for bigger things but for now I want to always be in the 18-man squad for every game. From there I have to fight to make the starting line-up,” Khutlang said.
He said he has worked hard since his arrival from Lioli in the just ended transfer window but sadly missed the first two games of the season since his paperwork was not yet ready.
“I have been working hard since I came here and even when my paper work was not yet sorted, I kept pushing myself at training and I am confident that if I continue to perform a bigger opportunity will come my way.”
The player said on match day he was also put under pressure by the club’s social media message that asked the fans to look out for him.
“On match day, Leopards posted on their social media that the fans should look out for the club’s new number 4 and that by itself put me under pressure to perform.
“What I told myself is that God has played a huge part in bringing me here and I must embrace the challenge. The support from national team coach Moses Maliehe, Basotho and the family has kept me going.
“My family members told me that I was going to score. So, I was very excited after scoring that goal in my first match. It is then that it sank in that indeed I am playing at the highest level in South Africa.
“It was an exciting moment in my career. I believe it is through good displays that I can negotiate my way to the top,” Khutlang said.