Youth must be served

2014-12-07 15:05

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Local football development coaches have hailed Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba for revitalising South African youth football.

Since taking charge as Bafana Bafana coach in July, Mashaba has handed caps to four players under the age of 20, a move that in the process broke the long-standing record of the youngest player to have earned a cap for the senior national team.

Last Sunday, Fagrie Lakay (17) became the youngest Bafana member when he came on as a substitute against Côte d’Ivoire during the Nelson Mandela Challenge.

The Santos striker broke the record set by Ajax Cape Town defender Rivaldo Coetzee for being the youngest player to don the Bafana jersey at just 18 years, two months and 26 days when he made his debut against Congo-Brazzaville in October.

Goalkeeper Dumisani Msibi (19) and Siyanda Ngubo (17) also became the latest teenagers to have graduated to Bafana.

The foursome came through the national Under-20 (Amajita) ranks, where Mashaba guided them to a 2015 African Youth Championship qualification.

They have also been part of Bafana’s 2015 Africa

Cup of Nations qualifying campaign at various intervals.

Ngubo has scored crucial goals for Amajita in the last 12 months. Lakay netted the brace against Cameroon in August that confirmed South Africa’s berth at the African Youth Championships in Senegal next year.

“We are happy with the way in which Bra Shakes has been blooding youngsters at the highest level. This is the biggest victory for all the youth coaches in the country. This will help us convince the club owners to invest in young players,” said Floyd Mogale, a renowned youth coach who is now deputising for Roger Sikhakhane at high-riding PSL outfit Chippa United.

Mamelodi Sundowns youth coach Daniel “Dan Dance” Malesela said: “Experience is triggered by youth and we are grateful to coach Shakes that he believes in the youth. He himself came through the ranks and it is easy for him to have so much faith in young players.”

Mandla Mazibuko, another Sundowns development coach who is a former Under-17 assistant coach, said: “It can only take a local coach to have faith in our young players. It is fulfilling because some of us travel the length and breadth of the country in search of talent. Now all our hard work is being recognised.”

In another development, SA Football Association (Safa) spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi said: “Part of Safa’s vision 2022 is the full implementation of the Technical Master Plan. The first pillar is that South Africa should develop its own playing philosophy and part of that is to develop coaches.”

Chimhavi confirmed that Bafana assistant coach Thabo Senong will take over as the Under-20 coach, and Under-17 head coach Molefi Ntseki will be his assistant.

Owen Da Gama will take over as the SA Under-23 mentor with Senong as his deputy. The two will continue to serve as Mashaba’s assistants at Bafana.

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