Fo­cus on build­ing new gen­er­a­tion of foot­ballers

African Times - - Sport - MASHUDU SADIKE

BAFANA Bafana can re­claim their place as one of the pow­er­houses of African foot­ball if coach Stu­art Bax­ter gets a long-term com­mit­ment from SAFA and a youth-based pro­gram to help build a new gen­er­a­tion of in­ter­na­tional play­ers.

This is the view of Kenny Niemach, the for­mer Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sun­downs pro­lific striker.

‘King Kenny’, as he was af­fec­tion­ately known in his heady days as a pro­lific striker in front of goals, was speak­ing af­ter the Bafana Bafana squad con­sist­ing of mostly young play­ers won the Four Na­tions tour­na­ment in Zam­bia, beat­ing the hosts 2-0 in the fi­nal last week­end.

Bax­ter, who took a rel­a­tively young team to Zam­bia said he is de­lighted with the char­ac­ter shown by the play­ers.

“I’m de­lighted with the char­ac­ter the lads have shown, es­pe­cially how the younger play­ers have per­formed. We had a cou­ple of kids play­ing from the start. It would have been easy for me not to start with Lebo [Moth­iba] (22). We were un­der pres­sure in the sec­ond half of the fi­nal and it would have been easy for me to take off Sph­e­sihle Ndlovu (21) and put on Dean Fur­man,” said the 64-year-old Bri­ton.

Bax­ter will be hop­ing the young­sters will in­crease their level of com­pe­ti­tion when the African Cup of Na­tions 2019 qual­i­fiers kick off later this year.

Bafana are to play Libya in an AF­CON qual­i­fier at home in Septem­ber be­fore fac­ing Sey­chelles away.

But Niemach says Bax­ter needs a long-term com­mit­ment from the South African Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion with ob­jec­tives and mile­stones in mind. He says a re­gen­er­a­tive pro­gram from school soc­cer to foot­ball academies, fo­cus­ing on the youth can help im­prove the na­tional team’s per­for­mance.

“There has to be a def­i­nite and clear iden­tity of the brand of foot­ball South Africa needs to play right now and academies are the best way to start-up the youth. I be­lieve given the right re­sources and plan­ning Bafana can once again com­pete as a ma­jor player on the con­ti­nent pro­vided the cri­te­ria for se­lec­tion is clearly de­fined and the youth is schooled,” said Niemach.

He said it was even more en­cour­ag­ing is that Bafana beat the hosts Zam­bia be­fore their own le­gion of sup­port­ers us­ing young play­ers like Sun­downs livewire Percy Tau.

“We do need a bit of steel in the way we play in West and East Africa be­cause they are phys­i­cally stronger and faster so we need in those ar­eas,” he con­cluded.

Niemach, who started a no­madic ca­reer in Dur­ban with D’Al­ber­ton Cal­lies and had a spell with Moroka Swal­lows, fa­mously moved to Amakhosi in Au­gust 2001 within days of join­ing Man­ning Rangers from Sun­downs.

“There has to be a clear un­der­stand­ing of the phi­los­o­phy and ethos we would em­ploy. Fur­ther­more an in-depth study on the nu­tri­tional re­quire­ments from ju­nior to se­nior level over a set pe­riod,” he said.

Niemach cited the ex­am­ple of France who went on to win the 1998 Fifa World Cup be­cause they wrote a doc­u­ment on the devel­op­ment of a team over a 10-year pe­riod which in­cluded greats like [Thiery] Henry and [Zine­dine] Zi­dane.

“I would do ex­actly the same and start from the be­gin­ning with a se­lec­tion that is clearly de­fined,” he said.

KENNY NIEMACH

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