No Under-23 headache this year
Allan Freese will not miss the National First Division (NFD) and its Under-23 rule.
After steering Highlands Park to the Premiership, Freese conceded that he had had a rude awakening in his first season in the NFD because of the Under-23 rule – the regulation compels every club to field five Under-23 players in every game.
Freese, who joined from Premiership side Platinum Stars before the beginning of this season, conceded that he had not understood the rule and this put him on the back foot at the outset.
“At least I won’t have to play five youngsters in the Premiership for a whole year,” he said.
But he gave credit to his Under-23 players for playing a crucial part in the side gaining promotion to the top league.
Freese conceded it was a difficult journey, but he was happy about the way it ended.
Highlands still have a game to go and they visit already-relegated University of Pretoria in a dead rubber on Wednesday.
But Freese said they would use it to give other players a chance to finish the season.
“It was a long season for us and I am happy it has ended in this fashion,” he said, before remembering the game they still had to play. “We have one more game to prepare for and we will see how it goes.”
Freese said their first game of the play-offs was very important because it gave them the oomph going forward. Highlands beat Mbombela 3-0 away from home, and Freese said the results gave his players the belief and motivation they needed for the play-offs.
“We need to stabilise the team in the first season and reinforce where it is necessary. We have a plan and we need to get new players, but we will take one game at a time.”
He was taken aback when asked if he was certain to continue leading the team in the top flight.
“Nobody has said anything to me ... I have taken the team to the PSL [Premier Soccer League].”
And he is relieved he will not be forced to field any youngsters unless he wants to.
A JOLLY GOOD FELLOW the Premiership Highlands Park players hoist their coach, Allan Freese, in the air after he guided them to