Future stars clash in Durban

2018-07-18 06:02
Rhulani Mokwena (left, assistant coach of Orlando Pirates) and Neil Tovey (technical director of the South African Football Association) at the launch of the 2018 u.21 SAB League National Championship.Photo: Teboho Setena

Rhulani Mokwena (left, assistant coach of Orlando Pirates) and Neil Tovey (technical director of the South African Football Association) at the launch of the 2018 u.21 SAB League National Championship.Photo: Teboho Setena

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The cream of the crop of South Africa’s future football talent has assembled and players are putting their skills on display at the 2018 u.21 SAB League National Championship in Durban this week.

An abundance of talent is expected to be showcased by the players, the match officials and technical officials from the nine provinces.

Ten teams of prospective stars are battling it out for supremacy in the King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi to earn the SAB League trophy.

One of the participating teams is of University Sports South Africa (Ussa) and the rest represent each of the nine provinces.

They began their gruelling quest on Tuesday (17/07), and the matches will culminate in the crowning of the champion at the finals on Sunday (22/07).

This development tournament is held annually by the South African Football Association (Safa), with the sponsor being South African Breweries (SAB).

It is the largest grassroots competition in the country.

It assembles match officials, players, technical coaches and admi­nistrators at one venue as part of the stakeholders’ holistic approach to advan­cing the development of football.

Approximately 20 match officials, as future referees and assistant referees, are doing duty at the event.

Neil Tovey, Safa’s technical director, emphasised the importance of striking a ba­lance between nurturing competitive players to play in big leagues, and grooming them to play abroad.

The immediate challenge is finding a formula to change the misfortunes of Bafana Bafana, not able to win continental titles.

“We have individually talented players. What we must work on, is improving their ability to disorganise opponents and to mentally strengthen them for big-moment games. This is not an overnight process,” said Tovey.

“High standards of play, and monitoring of the players by technical coaches, in all regions will ensure we have the highest calibre of players aspiring to play in the Premier Soccer League and the highest leagues in the world.”

Tovey had led Bafana Bafana as captain to win the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations.

Dennis Mumble, chief executive officer of Safa, has strongly encouraged the players, coaches and match officials to seize the opportunity provided by the tournament.

Among the players are Mamelodi Sundowns’ Hlompho Kekana and SuperSport United’s Teboho Mokoena. Coaches include u.20 national coach Thabo Senong and Orlando Pirates assistant coach Rhulani Mokwena.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to take full advantage of the hope of adding competent individuals to our football structures,” Mumble said.

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