Absa Premiership

Chiefs ready for Ke Yona

2014-01-30 13:36
Doctor Khumalo (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Dreams will be fulfilled when the Nedbank Ke Yona Team tackle 2013 Nedbank Cup champions Kaizer Chiefs in a unique football fixture that is a South African first at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on Sunday, February 2 (kick-off 15:00).

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A squad of 23 ordinary South Africans from around the country have assembled and are trained by four of the leading coaches in Mzansi to take on the might of Kaizer Chiefs, one of the biggest clubs on the African continent and a global brand.

For these players, many of who are AmaKhosi fans themselves, this will be the ultimate footballing experience and possibly the start of a professional career that may one day see them donning the Gold and Black of Kaizer Chiefs.

The Ke Yona Team have been led by veteran coaches Owen de Gama, Shakes Mashaba, Khabo Zondo and Mike Mangena, who have meticulously plotted a strategy for the side to overcome their Premier Soccer League (PSL) opponents.

What they might lack in technical ability and experience compared to Kaizer Chiefs, they will make up for in heart, determination and desire - knowing that history beckons for them if they can get a positive result.

It is the culmination of a journey that for many started in June last year when they came through regional trials and boot camps to be named in the final squad of 23.

They will be led by central midfielder captain Collen Mashawa, comfortably the most experienced member of the squad.

“We have to believe we can go out there and win the game,” Mashawa says. “We have worked so hard to get to this point. These boys have made huge strides through the months from where we started and we now feel like a team.  

“We know that we are playing against a great club with great players, but we must put those thoughts out of our minds and concentrate on executing our own game-plan and getting our own basic rights.

“There is a lot of talent in our squad, I believe many people will be surprised at just how good these players are. And we are ready, it has been a long road to get here, with so much hard work, but with the help of our four coaches and the mentoring they have given us, I believe we can give Kaizer Chiefs a run for their money.”

A number of the Ke Yona Team players have already been approached to sign contracts with professional clubs, but the hope is that more will get that opportunity after the match against Kaizer Chiefs.

The PSL side play this fixture just two days after a Soweto Derby against Moroka Swallows, and while the team of the Nedbank Ke Yona Team is very much ‘development’, the same may be for Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter.

He is expected to give a number of talented youngsters a run in the fixture, providing fans of the AmaKhosi to see their own rising stars of tomorrow and adding to the significance of this fixture.

“When Kaizer Chiefs take to the field, our supporters always expect to watch good football and this game is no exception. The technical team will have the chance to give the rising stars from our Development team a run,” said Vina Maphosa, Corporate Communications Manager for the Naturena club.

For those from Nedbank who have been involved in the Nedbank Ke Yona Team project from the start, this will be an emotional culmination in months of hard work.

But it will also be deeply satisfying to see these ordinary South Africans on the same pitch as their heroes and possibly on the path to stardom.

“We have taken people who are taxi drivers or unemployed and given them the platform to change their lives forever. They go from having very little to four months later signing with professional soccer clubs. That is powerful stuff,” says Sydney Mbhele, Divisional Executive: Group Marketing at Nedbank.

“Nedbank is all about inspiring ordinary people to achieve their goals and what epitomises that more than this Ke Yona Team talent search? To give these young men the opportunity to live their dreams and change the lives not just of themselves and their families is wonderful for us. We are very proud of this team and this concept.”

Read more on:    kaizer chiefs  |  soccer
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