The journey beckoning the Nedbank Ke Yona Team 18 hopeful players to stardom continue with the gruelling trials at their chosen 16 clubs in the Premier Soccer League. The trials are crucial to their journey to stardom. The players’ journey began in April this year with identification by selectors Shakes Mashaba, Mike Mangena, Owen Da Gama and Khabo Zondo. The 18 players are expected to report PSL clubs they are attached this month.For some hopefuls (including the Free State duo Thabo Mpholo and Vuyisile Ndledjana), the dream to secure professional contract could be realised and others not. The journey to stardom saw last Sunday (3/9) 17 of the 18 young lads showcased their talent against Nedbank Cup double champions SuperSport United at the Makhulong Stadium in Thembisa, just outside Johannesburg. The exciting encounter which was broadcast live ended with the reigning champions United winning 2-1. Zamuxolo Mduli scored for the Ke Yona Team while SuperSport goals came from Thuso Phala and Aubrey Modiba (2016 Ke Yona Team graduate). Arguably the result served as the yardstick to determine this year’s Ke Yona Team players’ hard grind of rise to stardom. The 2017 team stands out for having managed to score a goal to surpass the four previous teams that fell short scoring a goal. The Ke Yona Team suffered a penalty shoot-out to Kaizer Chiefs after a 0-0 draw in 2013, 2-0 losses to Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns (2014 & 2015), and a 1-0 defeat to SuperSport United in 2016. Former South Africa’s u.23 men’s national head coach Mashaba, is confident the 2017 crop of players have better prospects to convince coaches of the 16 clubs they are attached to during the trials. “Securing contract with any PSL is a great reward for both the boys and the sponsors who have it possible for this possible. After four years struggling to score, this team achieved the unthinkable by scoring a deserving goal. This proves our sentiment with co-coaches that the team is the best we have ever assembled since the inception of this talent identification initiative. Scoring goals is crucial aspect in football and I’m happy the boys did score and created opportunities to measure progress what they have learn for duration. This is the start of great things come for Ke Yona Team Search,” said Mashaba.“The goal reflect what we have been addressing during the camps. Scoring from a set-piece against Supersport reflects the team ability and great improvement in decision-making. Something to address in future is dealing with stage fright against big teams,” said Mashaba. Tutu Skosana, Nedbank sponsorship for football properties, expressed his contentment with the strides made and growing support for the talent identification initiative.