Star­lets ready for ac­tion

Many clubs will most likely give our tal­ented young lions a chance, but are they good enough to with­stand the pres­sure, asks Ti­mothy Molobi

CityPress - - Sport - LYLE FOSTER Born: Septem­ber 4, 2000 1 month 4 days GRANT MARGEMAN Born: June 3, 1998 4 months 5 days SIBU­SISO MAGACA Born: May 12, 1998 4 months 26 days THENDO MUKUMELA Born: Jan­uary 30, 1998 8 months 8 days SANDILE DLAMINI Born: May 2, 1997 5 months

T17 years 19 years here seems to be more of a fo­cus on young­sters of late in the Absa Premier­ship.

Some have al­ready tasted the ac­tion, while oth­ers are wait­ing in the wings for their chance to show­case their tal­ent.

While the fo­cus has mostly been on just a few who have al­ready tasted PSL foot­ball, a host of them have been pro­moted to their se­nior teams.

Wise­man Meyiwa, Lyle Foster and Kobamelo Kodisang are among the young tal­ent look­ing to im­press this sea­son and have hit the ground run­ning. But they are not the only ones ex­pected to grace the lo­cal league.

The big ques­tion is, is the tide turn­ing to­wards the young­sters as more coaches show faith in them, or is this just a PR ex­er­cise?

Those who have al­ready been given the op­por­tu­nity have not dis­ap­pointed and sup­port­ers are ask­ing for more.

Now the pres­sure is on other coaches to fol­low suit and play them.

Three sea­sons on, the Mul­tiChoice Diski Chal­lenge has al­ready made its in­tended im­pact on the Absa Premier­ship.

The league al­lows fu­ture prospects to strut their stuff, show­ing the gen­eral pub­lic what could be on the hori­zon in the com­ing years. 19 years 19 years

A few young play­ers have re­ceived a lot of at­ten­tion since mak­ing their de­buts, but are they ready to bloom into the su­per­stars that ev­ery­one is ex­pect­ing them to be­come?

A quick glance at the re­cently re­leased squad lists shows that all the clubs have one or more play­ers from their feeder teams.

This au­gurs well for the league as it is al­ready reap­ing the re­wards of the Mul­tiChoice Diski Chal­lenge league, which is in­tended to fast-track young­sters’ de­vel­op­ment.

But the big ques­tion is, are these young­sters ready for the big­ger stage, or are clubs sim­ply un­der pres­sure to pro­mote them?

A few have al­ready shown what they can do and, if their per­for­mances are any­thing to go by, the fu­ture of South African foot­ball looks great.

The coaches were bold enough to in­clude them in their squad lists, now they need to show con­fi­dence in them and throw these play­ers into the deep end. Af­ter all, if they are good enough, they should be old enough. Age should not limit their game time or ham­per their progress.

It is a great op­por­tu­nity for these young lions to step into the lime­light and prove their worth. They are strong, fit and fast, and have one or two things to show the old guard. They bring the spirit of not giv­ing up no mat­ter the 20 years 20 years 20 years odds as they are hun­gry for suc­cess.

Can they carry the hopes of their clubs, es­pe­cially when the go­ing gets tough?

Au­gusto Pala­cios, the head of de­vel­op­ment at Or­lando Pi­rates, has com­mended clubs for this move, say­ing it is a step in the right di­rec­tion. He be­lieves it is about time coaches show con­fi­dence in these young­sters.

He has no doubt that young South Africans have amaz­ing tal­ent.

“Why is it that, be­fore, when there was no money in foot­ball, there used to be more young­sters com­ing up? How long do we have to wait un­til we see more 16-year-olds play­ing in the PSL?” asked Pala­cios.

He is con­fi­dent that ever more young play­ers will be given op­por­tu­ni­ties by their clubs.

“How old was Michael Owen when he played at the World Cup? Why can’t we do the same here?”

Pala­cios speaks highly of young Pi­rates striker Foster and says it won’t be long be­fore he is lost to the PSL.

The striker al­ready has an as­sist af­ter Thabo Qalinge fin­ished his cross in the game against Cape Town City a fort­night ago.

The young­ster is edg­ing closer to a reg­u­lar role in the first team squad af­ter twice com­ing on as a late sub­sti­tute, 20 years 21 years and start­ing against Polok­wane City last week­end.

He has been touted as the next best thing af­ter grad­u­at­ing from the Diski Chal­lenge team.

Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Kom­phela has shown con­fi­dence in Meyiwa, and the 17-year-old has stolen head­lines by be­com­ing the club’s youngest goalscorer.

Kom­phela be­lieves there is enough young tal­ent com­ing up, but cau­tioned against rush­ing them un­nec­es­sar­ily.

Bid­vest Wits coach Gavin Hunt has Kodisang on his books. The for­mer Plat­inum Stars player was only 15 when coach Cavin John­son gave him a taste of top-flight foot­ball in the North West side. He looks des­tined for even greater heights.

Ajax Cape Town are no strangers to pro­mot­ing young­sters and it should not sur­prise that their youngest player, 19year-old Grant Margeman, has al­ready fea­tured four times.

Thabo Maphak­isa of Free State Stars and AmaZulu’s Sbu­siso Ma­gaqa have tasted PSL foot­ball, with one game each un­der their belt.

Most of the young­sters are still warm­ing the benches wait­ing for their time to come. But there’s no doubt that, for many of the play­ers on this sea­son’s squad list, the cam­paign will pro­vide a mas­sive step­ping stone to greater things.

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