By Michael Madyira
Sekhukhune United midfielder Kamohelp Mokotjo believes South African football is not lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of development.
Failure by South Africa to qualify for the 2023 Africa Under-20 Cup of Nations finals as well as the Under-23 version has attracted criticism from youth teams.
A shambolic outing by the Under-17 team at their Afcon tournament also invited questions about the development structures of domestic football.
But with a number of Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs investing in youngsters, Mokotjo dismisses the criticism aimed at the young players.
Mokotjo told journalists he thought South African football was evolving with the rest of the world, especially the development structures.
“Now we are promoting 17-year-olds, which shows that we are brave. We are willing to take the necessary steps to fast-track our players like 16-year-old Siyabonga Mabena at Sundowns and 17-year-old Relebohile Ratomo at Pirates,” he said.
“We have the talent. We should be opening doors to providing them with opportunities, whether locally or internationally.”
Besides Mabena and Ratomo, Mamelodi Sundowns striker Cassius Mailula has been one of the best-performing players in the PSL.
Mduduzi Shabalala and Samkelo Zwane have been revelations at Kaizer Chiefs, while 19-year-old Tapelo Maseko has established himself as a key player at SuperSport United.
In 2022, Shabalala failed trials at Lyle Foster’s former club KVC Westerlo and La Liga side Villarreal. But Mokotjo is convinced the wonderkids have what it takes to break into more competitive leagues in Europe.
“The young players in our country are at a level where they can go to Europe and make a life for themselves,” he said.
While Shabalala struggled to impress at Westerlo, the Belgians are now keen on Maseko and SuperSport has turned down two bids by the Eredivisie side.
Pictured above: Mamelodi Sundowns forward Siyabonga Mabena
Image source: Mamelodi Sundowns