Khoza announces reserve league ties

2014-09-05 00:00

PSL chairperson Irvin Khoza paid Durban a rare visit yesterday to announce the first round of the Multichoice Diski Challenge that would take place in the city on September 13 at King Zwelithini Stadium.

The tournament runs from September to March and is as a reserve league to the 16 PSL franchises.

With an U23 age cap — though three older players are allowed per team — the league develops young players finding their feet professionally.

Khoza confirmed yesterday that tournament funding came completely from Multichoice and that SuperSport had agreed to televise some matches.

The September 13 opening day sees four matches in Umlazi with AmaZulu taking on Orlando Pirates and KwaZulu-Natal neighbours Maritzburg United clashing with Kaizer Chiefs.

“This is a pilot project, but it was important for us to see how best we could develop young talent in this country,” Khoza said.

“Development in this country is a big challenge. When you look at players from elsewhere in the world — like Argentina — you realise something is missing somewhere here.”

Khoza spoke about the step up from the age-group structures to professional football, saying the reserve league sought to smooth out that transition.

“After 19, where do players go if they are not ready to go straight into the PSL? They can only do that if they are exceptional,” said Khoza.

“The reserve league will make sure we give an opportunity for these players to play at the top level.”

The “Iron Duke” gave assurance the initiative had Safa’s complete backing.

“We had a meeting with Safa on the issue and it took 15 minutes to discuss,” he said.

“We are a part of Safa. We all need Bafana Bafana to do well and this initiative will help reach that aim.”

With the guaranteed television backing and sponsorship from SuperSport as well as free entrance to matches, the PSL reserve league has the potential to become more recognised than South Africa’s second tier — the National First Division (NFD).

However, Mato Madlala, PSL executive committee member and owner of NFD franchise Golden Arrows, does not see it that way.

“This will not create a competition with the NFD,” she said yesterday. “This is an excellent opportunity to see youngsters coming up through the ranks. It is a pilot that runs from September to March.

“After that it will be back to the drawing board and, who knows, we could end up in a situation where we have all 32 teams [PSL and NFD] participating in the reserve league.”

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