Renowned football development coach Augusto Palacios believes PSL clubs should take advantage of the new five substitutes rule by including Under-19 players in their match-day squads.
This week the league confirmed it had adopted the five substitutes rule for the remaining matches in both the Absa Premiership and GladAfrica Championship divisions.
This means clubs will be allowed to make five changes per game, with nine substitutes named on the team lists – up from the seven normally included on the bench.
Palacios, a former head coach at Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns, said this was a perfect opportunity for coaches to blood the youngsters. He added that failure to do this would be a lost opportunity.
“All the teams have players from their MDC [MultiChoice Diski Challenge] sides and I think most of them can play in the first teams,” said the Peru-born trainer, who is known for his passion for developing youngsters.
“Personally, I would urge the coaches to use this opportunity to give these youngsters a big break in the first teams. Rubbing shoulders – at training and in matches – with first-team players will go a long way towards their development. This will also help junior national teams as it would increase their pools,” he said.
Palacios said the move would spare clubs from buying players all the time.
“Many clubs spend lots of money buying players instead of promoting from within their ranks. With Covid-19, many clubs are going through a difficult financial period and they must think of new ways to utilise their financial resources. Promoting these youngsters will be one way to save costs and also give them exposure at an early age.”
He said South Africa had talented youngsters, and both the NFD and Premiership should utilise them.
“We used to produce [skilled] youngsters in droves, and we can’t blame club owners because they are not in charge of these teams. Coaches should have confidence in these youngsters and throw them into the deep end. That’s the only way they are going to learn.
“I have no doubt that most of them can hold their own.”
Palacios said the days when players only made their debut in the professional ranks when they were in their 20s were over. He cited the examples of Brazilians Vinícius Júnior (20) and Rodrygo (19), who are on Real Madrid’s books and have proved their worth.
The 68-year-old has spent nearly half of his life in South Africa and has observed that the country has regressed when it comes to investing in football development structures.
Now is the best time to start all over again, he advises.
“We used to have young players such as Jabu [Mahlangu], Benni [McCarthy], Stanton [Fredericks], Gift [Leremi] and Joseph [Makhanya], who proved themselves when they were given the opportunity.
“Why can’t we do the same now? I am not attacking any club, but this is my own personal opinion. I believe we have good players who need to be given a chance. If we miss this opportunity, it will be too late. It’s now or never for me.”
Interestingly, Stellenbosch FC this week unveiled 18-year-old Jayden Adams, who became the club’s first academy graduate to sign a professional contract with the senior team.
It will be a mad dash to the finish line as the PSL still has 113-games that need to be played in the next 43 days before the season can officially end. Thereafter there will be a break of a month and the 2020/21 campaign will commence. PSL chairman Irvin Khoza announced that the new season will start on October 9. Here is a timeline of when this season will be concluded and when the next one will begin:
August 11: Absa Premiership resumes
August 30: GladAfrica ends
September 5: Premiership ends
September 8/12: Nedbank Cup final
September 6-21: PSL playoffs
September 22-November 17: Transfer window
October 9: Start of 2020/21 PSL season
February 1-March 1: Transfer window