New coach to blood youngsters

2010-08-04 00:00

REACHING the final of the pre-season Telkom Charity Cup on Saturday would be a confidence boost for the coming season for AmaZulu, new coach Manqoba Mngqithi said yesterday.

Usuthu were yesterday drawn to play Orlando Pirates in the first semi-final at 10 am, with Kaizer Chiefs meeting Mamelodi Sundowns in the second game at noon. The final will be played at 5 pm as the annual opening event of the South African season returns to its traditional venue in front of a sell-out 88 000 crowd at Soccer City (National Stadium).

The Charity Cup was last held at the stadium in 2006, before the World Cup final venue closed for renovations.

Mngqithi said he feels it is crucial for AmaZulu to try to beat Pirates and reach the final.

“I think it is very important that, as much as this is a pre-season tournament, we win our first game to play in two matches on the day. That would be a big confidence boost for us,” the coach said.

Speaking from Johannesburg, where AmaZulu arrived for a training camp yesterday, Mngqithi said leading AmaZulu in the Charity Cup will not be quite on the same scale as winning the MTN8 final 6-0 over Ajax Cape Town with his previous club, Lamontville Golden Arrows, last season.

This is despite the difference in scale of the attendances between the 40 000-seater Orlando Stadium and the crowd of nearly 90 000 that will pack Soccer City.

“It’s not a bigger event. In effect it’s just a pre-season tournament that doesn’t carry the same importance as an MTN8 final.

“[But] it is good to have such a crowd to play in front of because it can help the situation of developing youngsters. It will be very good for younger players who have never faced that sort of situation from the point of view that it can help them develop.”

Under Mngqithi, AmaZulu are expected to have a playing style very different from the one they employed when they were coached by Neil Tovey last season. Arrows were renowned for their stylish, on-the-carpet, attacking football under Mngqithi, and the former Howick school teacher is expected to import much of the same lean play at AmaZulu.

But the coach was not giving much away on what to expect from Usuthu in the coming season. Asked if it will be a new-look Usuthu that takes the field against Bucs, Mngqithi replied: “I believe so. There will be a number of ways how, but we will just have to wait and see — the proof will be in the pudding.”

The AmaZulu coach said he intends to introduce some youngsters and new signings in the Charity Cup, though he will essentially field his strongest side.

“I will be using just my team. Possibly some will be youngsters, and we will be looking also at blending the younger players and some of the new signings with the more senior players.”

At Arrows, Mngqithi enjoyed being part of a culture where young players were speedily promoted to the senior team, and he said he will continue that philosophy at AmaZulu.

“I always believe in playing youngsters because I think the style of play I utilise requires players with a high level of energy,” the coach said. “I believe that when you have youngsters used together with senior players who can steer and develop them, then it makes a team even stronger.”

AmaZulu finished second in the final voting to be included in the Charity Cup with 124 372 votes. Sundowns topped the standings with 191 384 votes, Pirates were third with 113 989 and Chiefs fourth with 113 086.

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