A week ago, renowned football development coach Augusto Palacios made a case for young players to be considered by PSL clubs in the final round of matches to complete the delayed season.
The veteran tactician made particular reference to the PSL side’s reserve team players who have been showing promise in the MultiChoice Diski Challenge (MDC), which was sadly cut short by the Covid-19 pandemic.
As if in response to Palacios’s plea, Friday marked a special day for Mamelodi Sundowns’ Promise Mkhuma and Cape Town City’s Eyona Ndondo, who made their PSL débuts.
Sundowns and City clearly took advantage of a new dispensation from the PSL that allows clubs to register MDC players during the period in the bio-bubble to finish the 2019/20 season.
This is in addition to the rule that allows teams to make up to five substitutions in a game.
Mkhuma (20) came in as a 59th-minute replacement for Sibusiso Vilakazi in Sundowns’ 1-1 draw with Highlands Park at Dobsonville Stadium, while Ndondo (20) also came on as a late substitute in City’s 1-0 victory over Chippa United at Orlando Stadium.
“I think football during Covid-19 has given us the opportunity to use the younger ones a lot because you have five substitutes, which makes the game longer – from 95 minutes to 97 minutes,” said Sundowns head coach Pitso Mosimane, who also handed veteran striker Anthony Laffor a run – his first official game in more than a year.
“The younger ones recover much more quickly and they have speed, but you still need experienced players. You’ve got to rotate the team,” added Mosimane.
City head coach Jan Olde Riekerink was also excited about having youngsters at his disposal.
The team promoted about seven of their MDC players and also signed 19-year-old striker Diego Appollis from the Chippa United reserve side last week.
“I’m really happy that we added a few youngsters. They’re catching up with the level and we’re united,” said Riekerink.