Sunday World (South Africa)

Pitiful scouting has cost us future stars

Saleng,sekgota might be the players supporters thirst for

- Kgomotso Mokoena

The call-ups of Orlando Pirates dribbling wizard Monnapule Saleng and Kaizer Chiefs hard-running midfielder Kgaogelo Sekgota this week has set tongues wagging. With the kind of excitement oozing from the Buccaneers and their sworn-enemies Amakhosi supporters, you could swear they have just won a major trophy.

The two players are having a fantastic time in the PSL and have establishe­d themselves in the starting line-ups. When the clubs’ fans talk about the exploits of the two, they get animated. It was like when Lionel Messi was still at Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo was at Real Madrid.

But the question that should be asked is that with Saleng at 24 years, and Sekgoto at 25, where have they been all these years? The problem with South African football is scouting. Players always have to fight their way to the top on their own, and often they fall through the cracks.

The duo did not just become amazing and talented players overnight, and it’s rather puzzling how the scouts did not spot them when they were teenagers. As talented as they are, they missed a crucial part of their initiation and developmen­t by not playing for the junior national teams.

Part of the problem in SA is that we call 25-year-old players youngsters. In most countries that have a functionin­g national plan and system, players of that age are already approachin­g 50 national caps. On Wednesday, Manchester City played 17-year-old Rico Lewis in the Uefa Champions League match against Sevilla. The young lad scored a goal and rewrote history. What’s stopping South African clubs from taking that route?

Some of the supporters are already enthusing about the combinatio­n of Saleng and Sekgota in the green and gold of the national team. They went as far as saying they will be the solution to coach Hugo Broos’ headache, just like the deadly combo of Doctor “16 Valve” Khumalo and John “Shoes” Moshoeu.

The reality is that both clubs are in desperate need of match-winners to bring back the glory days. Bucs die-hards are longing for a player in the mould of Steve Lekoelea, Benedict “Tso” Vilakazi or even Gift Leremi. Chiefs, on the other hand, have been yearning for a superstar for some time since the days of Khumalo, Jabu “Shuffle” Mahlangu and Emmanuel “Scara” Ngobese

Chiefs had high hopes when Pule Eksteen showed glimpses and a few silky touches, but he was not that player.

In the past few seasons, they have been optimistic that young Nkosingiph­ile “Mshini” Ngcobo could be the answer – but the coaches are not giving him a regular place in the team.

They were also hoping Siyethemba Sithebe could be the ace in the pack – but after a mere eight games into the new season, Chiefs coach Arthur Zwane remarked the dreadlocke­d ball-juggler had run out of steam.

Sekgota can run with the ball the whole day, but technicall­y and tactically, he is not one of the best we’ve seen. Saleng too needs to be more consistent and show that he has a big-match temperamen­t.

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