By Ameenu Shardow
Maritzburg coach Ernst Middendorp has paid glowing tribute to Ghanaian defender Awal Mohammed on his return.
The 24-year-old returned from suspension on Tuesday to help the side it's losing streak against Pretoria University.
The Team of Choice have lost all three games in the absence of the ex Asante Kotoko player who was serving a red card ban.
Mohammed underscored his importance to the South African top flight side by helping the team to a hard fought 1-1 draw at home against the Tusks.
And Maritzburg's German coach Middendorp was emphatic in his praises for the yet-to-be-capped Ghana international after their final game of 2012.
"It is just his (Awal) first season but he approaches every game as if he is a veteran of South African football," he said.
"Coming from Asante Kotoko in Ghana, it's not surprising at all."
Mohammed's impressive displays in the Premier Soccer League has earned him a place in the provisional Ghana squad for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
Some argue the call might have come too soon but Middendorp says he is not surprised.
"His call up to the Ghana team is not shocking to me, but maybe to the player himself," he adds.
"I've told him he is his own competitor and I can only hope he stays with us for a long time as clubs are all over him."