Coach praises Wits youth development

2011-11-22 12:46

As Bidvest Wits seek a second trophy in as many years in their Telkom Knockout semi-final against Santos on Sunday, coach Roger de Sa has hailed the youth development programme in place at the club.

“This is probably the best future side I’ve had at Wits, and the reason for that is that the academy is finally coming through,” the coach said at a training session today.

“The five-year plan we set out three years ago is now starting to show up. We’ve cheated a bit; there are some kids arriving sooner and we’re pushing them quicker than we should have. But it’s paying off and they’re stepping up.”

Wits won the Nedbank Cup two seasons ago and currently lie seventh on the Premier Soccer League (PSL) table.

De Sa says his side are seeing results sooner than he expected.

“It’s a swim or sink scenario and they’re swimming.

“It’s nice to see a lot of the youngsters coming to the fore and playing like we expected them to play.

“In that white building over there, I can tell you there’s another 10 or so knocking on the door.”

De Sa also highlighted the key role 24-year-old Ryan Chapman plays in the side.

“I think he always has been prolific in front of goal. He’s a fantastic squad player. I signed him at Santos as an 18-year-old from Benoni Northerns. I took him down to Cape Town and we signed him up there and I gave him his debut against Kaizer Chiefs and he scored there and then.”

The coach said that while many have been surprised by the recent goal scoring exploits of the young player, he had known that Chapman had potential in front of goal.

“He’s always had that ability in him. I think because he’s so versatile he’s been overlooked sometimes. I’ve played him on the right wing, on the left wing, I’ve played him in the midfield and up-front.

“He’s never been given a fair crack at one position, and I think this time around with Sifiso Vilakazi’s injury and Bradley Ritson’s injury he’s filled the role and done very well for us.

“He’s also playing to his strengths, which is keeping it simple, he’s strong, quick, two feet that he can shoot with and has a fantastic attitude.”

The “Clever Boys” coach also voiced his frustration with the SA Football Association (Safa) calling up Wits players for national under-23 duty, and not giving PSL clubs enough notice.

“The players we lose to under-23 are the players we do use. There’s not many players here that we don’t use at all, even though they are under-23s. They are regulars in our team and they play a part.

“With Safa, it keeps being an issue every year, you know the calendar and the games, players, call-ups. It just doesn’t seem to improve and I think it’s time that they get their house in order.”

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