Soweto derby eludes Diski Challenge

2014-11-02 15:00

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For Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, the inaugural MultiChoice Diski Challenge could not have come at a more opportune time.

It will gauge how far their development structures have come since they were shut down in recent years amid age-cheating allegations.

The two giants revived their youth programmes just recently after Pirates closed shop in 2012. Chiefs had terminated theirs two years earlier.

The junior Buccaneers have now qualified for the quarterfinals of the newly established reserve league, just four months after coach Augusto Palacios re-established their junior structure.

Chiefs suffered an ignominious elimination from their group after they were pipped to fourth place by University of Pretoria on goal difference.

The Bucs won their group. Had Chiefs qualified, it would have set a first Soweto derby of the Diski Challenge when the two sides had campaigned in different groups.

Palacios said: “Our team has been together for four months. The reserve league came at the right time because many young players are now getting regular game time. This will fast-track their development and those who don’t get to play at their senior teams.

“It has proved a tough league?...?Chiefs have dropped out.”

Striker Menzi Masuku (21) starred for the junior Buccaneers in the tournament. He is already on the books of the senior team.

Palacios added: “I think the league has also helped amateur referees as they have handled the games very well.”

Chiefs coach Donald “Ace” Khuse’s side might not have advanced to the last eight but head coach Stuart Baxter benefited most: the youngsters he promoted to the Chiefs senior team at the beginning of the current season enjoyed regular game time.

Midfielder Hendrick Ekstein (23) was Chiefs’ star player during the group stage, together with midfielder Chris Matombo (21) and striker Zitha Macheke (20).

The reserve league also opened doors of opportunity for other rising stars. Former Bafana Bafana striker Patrick Mayo’s sons Khanyisa (16) and Khanyisile (15) caught the attention of SuperSport United when they turned out for Chippa United.

Kobamelo Kodisang (15) impressed at Platinum Stars.

For other clubs such as Moroka Swallows and AmaZulu, their senior teams’ struggles in the elite league reflected on their juniors.

The two clubs’ reserve sides exited the Diski Challenge without wins in their seven group matches.

The senior Usuthu also remain the only Premiership side that is yet to win a match this season.

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