Daily Maverick

These starlets are poised to make their mark in the DStv Premiershi­p

There are a few exciting players who will be looking to establish themselves this season, with their eyes firmly on the young player award as well as any domino effects that come with outstandin­g performanc­es. By

- Yanga Sibembe

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos has sounded a call for Premier Soccer League (PSL) coaches to put their trust in more young players. He has led by example, including them in the recent Fifa World Cup qualifiers where the likes of Ethan Brooks of TS Galaxy, and Bongokuhle Hlongwane, who plays for Maritzburg United, shone. Reigning PSL young player of the season Evidence Makgopa is also set to feature regularly under Broos.

The Belgian coach will be hoping that these players will carry on improving, while they, too, will push themselves knowing that performing well on a regular basis will help their continuing developmen­t and hopefully earn them moves to some of the bigger South African clubs or even internatio­nally.

Ethan Brooks

The 20-year-old midfielder has been quite consistent since making the step up into the top flight with TS Galaxy in the 2020/2021 season.

Unless you’re N’Golo Kante, being a deep-lying midfielder can be a thankless job. The lack of frills that comes with being a good defensive midfielder, especially in a country that gets hypnotised by aimless showboatin­g, can mean that the brilliance of someone like Ethan Brooks can fly under the radar.

Not for Broos though. After Bafana Bafana started their World Cup qualifying campaign on a high, the 69-year-old Bafana mentor singled out Brooks for praise.

“I think, if I can use the example of Ethan Brooks… He produced a very, very good game today. So, he took his chance, and over the next few months, all the young players will get their chance,” Broos said after his side had seen off Ghana to win an important three points.

Of course, despite being one of the first names on the team sheet at Galaxy, Brooks still has room for improvemen­t – especially if he harbours hopes of one day making an internatio­nal move. One thing


is though, if he continues on the current trajectory, he is set to become a household name in the mould of legendary PSL midfielder­s such as Tinashe Nengomasha, Esrom Nyandoro and, most recently, Willard Katsande.

Evidence Makgopa

Baroka’s lanky 21-year-old forward is the reigning PSL player of the season.

Evidence Makgopa will be hoping to put on similar or better performanc­es to those displayed last season, when he finished with seven goals and registered three assists from 28 DStv Premiershi­p games to help his side finish comfortabl­y above the relegation zone in 10th place.

His performanc­e attracted the attention of Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates, although no transfer ultimately happened and Makgopa is once again spearheadi­ng the Bakgaga attack in the 2021/2022 campaign.

He scored one goal in three matches during South Africa’s botched Tokyo Olympics’ run, and has caught the eye of Broos in the national team, especially with Bafana currently starved of a senior traditiona­l number nine. A brace on debut in a friendly against Uganda significan­tly raised his profile.

Still, if he is to improve on these impressive numbers and possibly defend his title as the best young player, he will have to take his level a few notches higher. Although, standing at 1.9m tall, scaling new heights shouldn’t be a problem for the Limpopo native.

Njabulo Blom

An array of talented youngsters currently call Kaizer Chiefs home. This includes midfield starlet Nkosingiph­ile Ngcobo, as well as Sabelo Radebe, who shone during the Carling Black Label Cup in pre-season, but has since found game time a rare commodity as Amakhosi coach Stuart Baxter opts for his more experience­d midfielder­s.

A young midfielder who has seen ample game time so far this season, though, is 21-year-old Njabulo Blom.

The Soweto native has played every Chiefs game so far this season, albeit in the unfamiliar positions of right back and right-wing back. He clocked 46 games last season, playing in this new position occasional­ly under Gavin Hunt.

“I am trying to give my best in each and every position that they play me; that’s the mentality that I have at the moment. Wherever they put me, I will do my best and work hard,” Blom said recently.

Bongokuhle Hlongwane

The 21-year-old Maritzburg United forward is the toast of the town after scoring the crucial goal that saw Bafana Bafana edge out Ghana in their World Cup qualifier during the most recent internatio­nal Fifa break.

Having accumulate­d 22 appearance­s last season, scoring three and assisting another three during that time, Bongokuhle Hlongwane is set to be even more integral to Ernst Middendorp’s side this season.

Two senior forwards – Thabiso Kutumela and Judas Moseamedi – have been sold, paving the way for the composed youngster to step up and take on more responsibi­lity.

Depending on the overall team performanc­es of the inconsiste­nt KwaZulu-Natal side, Hlongwane has a chance to better his numbers from the 2020/2021 season, and push further than the young player of the season nomination he scored last campaign.

Jesse Donn

Supersport United boasts some of the most talented youngsters in South African football, with the likes of centre back Luke Fleurs, Keenan Phillips and midfielder Jamie Webber on their books.

So far this season, though, it has been midfield anchor Jesse Donn who has stolen all the plaudits. The 22-year-old has notched up two player of the match awards, which came in consecutiv­e games.

His performanc­es early in the season have drawn comparison­s between him and former Supersport/Bafana midfield conductor Dean Furman.

He is hopeful that his brilliant start will pave the way for him to have his best season in the DStv Premiershi­p to date.

“It feels great to be a consistent starter at the moment. In my previous two seasons at the club, I haven’t had a strong start to the season, so hopefully this will set me and the team up for a competitiv­e season ahead,” Donn said.

Goodman Mosele

Another Baroka product, the 21-year-old midfielder has slotted in seamlessly into a star-studded Pirates central midfield.

Goodman Mosele has played 90 minutes in each of their three league games to date, scoring his first goal for the club in their twoall draw versus Stellenbos­ch in August.

Should he maintain or improve on the start he’s had with the Buccaneers, he will undoubtedl­y be considered when the PSL compiles its list of young players of the season, an award that he previously won after sterling performanc­es for Baroka.

Ibraheem Jabaar

Nigerian winger Ibraheem Jabaar is the youngest player to make an appearance in the Premiershi­p to date. The Stellenbos­ch player was just 18 years and nine months old when he made an appearance for the Cape Town side in their season-opening fixture versus Pirates in August.

Having joined halfway through the 2020/2021 season, he quickly establishe­d himself as an integral part of coach Steve Barker’s side and is poised to play an important role for Stellies this season.

 ??  ?? Njabulo Blom of
Kaizer Chiefs.
Evidence Makgopa of Baroka. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePi­x
Ibraheem Jabaar of Stellenbos­ch FC.
Jesse Donn of Supersport United.
Njabulo Blom of Kaizer Chiefs. Evidence Makgopa of Baroka. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePi­x Ibraheem Jabaar of Stellenbos­ch FC. Jesse Donn of Supersport United.
 ??  ?? Above: Goodman Mosele of Orlando Pirates Right: Bongokuhle Hlongwane of Maritzburg United Photos:
Above: Goodman Mosele of Orlando Pirates Right: Bongokuhle Hlongwane of Maritzburg United Photos: BackpagePi­x
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 ??  ?? Ethan Brooks of TS Galaxy.
Ethan Brooks of TS Galaxy.
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