Academies are the backbone of youth teams

2015-01-11 15:00

Unfancied clubs SuperSport United and Bidvest Wits have proved to be the main suppliers of players to ­national teams heading into continental competitions in the next few weeks.

The two outfits each have 10 players that have been called up across the senior and junior ­national teams.

This is more than the number of players chosen from prominent clubs Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando ­Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns, which each had seven of their players called up.

But it is at the national youth level where Matsatsantsa a Pitori dominate – nine of their players form the South African Under-17 (Amajimbos) and Under-20 (Amajita) provisional squads ahead of the CAF Youth Championships.

Both of United’s academy goalkeepers, Dumisani Msibi and Mondli Mpoto, are the first-choice keepers for Amajita and Amajimbos, respectively. This further proves that, after Chiefs, SuperSport are home to the best keepers in the country.

Msibi – who was promoted to SuperSport’s ­senior team this season – is one of the club’s six academy graduates currently in the Pretoria-based team’s Absa Premiership squad.

The Bafana rookie made his debut for SuperSport last month and entered the senior national team for the first time against Côte d’Ivoire in ­November.

While most PSL clubs are often criticised for failing to give their youngsters a chance at breaking into their first teams, SuperSport and Wits academies have been prominent features of the two clubs in the past decade. Closer inspection reveals that some of the big-name players within the two clubs – and across the PSL clubs – began their careers at their academies.

Wits academy is headed by former players at the club – Stanton Fredericks, Glen Salmon and Peter Rabolele.

Interestingly, Salmon spent the better part of his playing career at SuperSport, while Fredericks also had a loan stint with the club.

Another common factor between the two clubs is coach Gavin Hunt, who joined Wits from SuperSport in 2013 after seven seasons – and three PSL titles – with Matsatsantsa a Pitori.

Now SuperSport and Wits carry the nation’s hopes as Bafana, Amajita and Amajimbos build up to their respective continental championships, starting with the Africa Cup of Nations in ­Equatorial Guinea next weekend.

Former SuperSport striker David Notoane and erstwhile Wits keeper Wendell Robinson are in charge of the Amajita, which are preparing for their Youth Championship in Senegal from March?8 to 22. The Under-20s started camp this week and were due to play a Qatar select team in Doha yesterday. They will then proceed to St Petersburg in ­Russia for the Russian Commonwealth tournament, which takes place from January 15 to 26.

Meanwhile, Amajimbos also convened for their training camp this week in a build-up to the Youth Championships in Niger from February 15 to March 1.

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