Igesund: Focus on youth talent
Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund has called for a restructuring of the country's youth teams set-up, in order for players to be better developed before making their senior national debuts.
Igesund said South Africa's Under-17, U-20 and U-23 teams were lying dormant and were in desperate need of more matches, which would allow young players to move through the ranks and gain experience along the way.
"If you look at the big picture, we have to start developing a team for 2015, 2017 and 2018," Igesund said in Kempton Park on Monday.
His comments come a day after the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) U-20 Championships draw in Lesotho.
South Africa were drawn in Group C, along with Zambia, the Seychelles and Namibia.
The side last played in March and their previous major competition were at the 2009 U-20 World Cup in Egypt where they progressed to the last-16 stage.
Igesund said Bafana Bafana should not be used to identify and nurture young talent, but was rather a team that deserved only the best and most experienced players in the country.
"The senior national team is a not a place to give caps away all the time," he said.
"They have to start playing in the Under-17s, 20s and 23's. There are so many players that have to start playing.
"If these young players had five or six years of being in the under-17s, 20s and 23 teams, then when they come to the senior national team, they will be much more experienced than they are now.
"We have to remember that our senior national team is not a development team. We have to pick the best players at all times."
Igesund has blooded a number of youngsters since his appointment as national coach last year, including Kgosi Ntlhe (19), Ayanda Patosi (20), Bongani Zungu (21), Siyanda Xulu (21) and Daylon Claasen (23).
"Over the last three or four months, I've given a lot players opportunities and I wouldn't have done anything differently if I had the chance again," Igesund said of his squad selections.
"Slowly but surely there might be one or two older players out of the system come 2015 or 2018.
"I've given them (young players) the opportunity, where normally I'd be watching them in the Under-23 team. But because these teams have been inactive, we've taken the responsibility of throwing them in at the deep end.
"We've been putting them into the squad, having a look at them at the risk of losing sometimes."