Katlego Mphela’s future in Europe will be decided today after the South African striker’s 45-minute appearance for Celtic in their 2-0 friendly defeat against Wolves in Glasgow on Wednesday night.
The 26-year-old “Killer” from Brits may have produced the last-gasp goal for South Africa which defeated mighty Egypt last month but he was unable to score for the Bhoys, having his only real chance - a header - well-saved by Wolves goalkeeper Wayne Hennessy.
The Mamelodi Sundowns striker, ending a five-day trial at at Parkhead, was replaced at the half-time by fellow triallist Milos Lacny from Slovakia.
Mphela has scored 19 goals in 40 appearances for South Africa while Lacny, 23, has yet to play a full international for his country and the Sparta Prague striker is on a second trial with Celtic.
Boss Neil Lennon said of his experimental Celtic side, showing 11 changes from the team that won their Scottish Premier League opener against Hibernian 2-0 on Saturday: "They did okay. It was difficult for them, to get 45 minutes and they’ve not really played that much with the other players before.
"Mphela was unlucky with a header and Lacny had a couple of chances, so they showed bits and pieces.
"We will speak to them over the next couple of days, probably before we go to Dublin (for two further friendlies this weekend).
"I will probably not make a decision until tomorrow. I can't give you an answer tonight, we will talk about it tomorrow.”
Mphela, who spent two goalless seasons at French clubs RC Strasbourg and Stade Rheims from 2004-2006 after starting his goal-happy career at Arcadia and Jomo Cosmos, had hoped to grab his second chance in Europe with a bang after Sundowns turned down an offer for his services from Israel’s Maccabi Haifa.
Before he left for his Celtic trial, Mphela said of his spell in France: "It's a different story now. Back then, I was still only 18 or 19 and it was hard to adjust and I ended up coming home.
"But I think that has helped me in the long run because I am now a regular for my country and have played in all these big competitions like the Confederations Cup and the World Cup. I'm pleased that things have gone well but now I want to go back to Europe and prove myself."
Jamie O'Hara's free-kick after 28 minutes gave Wolves a first-half lead before a 72nd minute own goal by Hoops second-half substitute Filip Twardzik wrapped it up.
On Celtic’s official Facebook page, only one fan (if you discount excited South Africans) commented on Mphela’s performance, saying: “Why do we have fans slagging off the team after a pre-season friendly? The team was full of triallists and fringe players. Mphela looks sharp so i think we should sell (Irish striker Daryl) Murphy.”
While FC Twente’s Bernard Parker – Mphela’s Bafana Bafana striking partner - signed a two-year deal to return to South Africa with Kaizer Chiefs yesterday, hours after the Amakhosi’s Zimbabwean top-scorer Knowledge Musona agreed a five-year contract with German club Hoffenheim.
Benni McCarthy, the 33-year-old Bafana Bafana top scorer who is clubless after being released by West Ham, continues to be linked with champions Orlando Pirates though a move to Ajax Cape Town, where he is currently training, may still be on the cards. He is quoted as saying: “My mom is here in Cape Town and that’s probably the biggest thing in my head. I’ve been away 15 years, which is almost half my life.”