Cape Town - Kaizer Chiefs legend Doctor Khumalo has
hailed the progress of youth development products Siphosakhe
Ntiya-Ntiya and Happy Mashiane after they started the Soweto derby.
The pair have featured for the Glamour Boys in recent times with
Mashiane initially making an impact after a fine debut against Tornado
FC in the Nedbank Cup.
However, he struggled a little bit in the derby against Orlando
Pirates and was substituted at half-time. Nonetheless, coach Ernst
Middendorp said he was simply ensuring the player didn't get burned out
so early in his career.
Meanwhile, Ntiya-Ntiya has become a first team regular making 11 starts in 11 Premiership matches for Chiefs.
Khumalo, who played for Amakhosi for most of the time from 1987 until 2004, was in full praise of the pair. He told Soccer Laduma:
"I would like to focus on development and playing youngsters in a
highly competitive game, with the Soweto Derby having played last
weekend. We saw the Kaizer Chiefs technical team play two youngsters
(Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya and Happy Mashiane) in their starting line-up.
"While this column's focus is not on the derby or Chiefs, as I'm
talking development, it is important to highlight what playing those two
boys in that game brings to their development. It was significantly
important for those boys to get that opportunity, which is something
that hasn't been happening in a long time now.
"Some of us graduated in similar conditions where we were promoted
and exposed to big games at a young age, with the view and belief that
we'd go on to make a big impact in the team.
"It isn't just about the derby because other teams have to produce
and promote youngsters as well, for the betterment of South African
football. Sometimes winning overrides the importance of development,
which is very sad because playing youngsters doesn't guarantee a loss.
"It is just that we tend not to believe in our youth, but there's
only one way for these youngsters to develop and grow in the game and
that's through being given opportunities.
"There's a lot going into development and I can count a number of
players who were exposed to these high-intensity games at a young age
and went on to achieve a lot. That's because they got used to pressure
situations at a young age.
"Look at Gerald Sibeko, Jabu (Pule) Mahlangu, Brian Baloyi, the late
Thabang Lebese, Thabo Mooki, myself and many others. Once you get given
that opportunity, you want to grab it with both hands so that you make a
mark. You start thinking about where it all started for you and you
never want to disappoint anyone.
"It is when you are aware of your responsibility, role and the
expectations from everyone that you are fully developed and focused. You
then feel free to express yourself because you know you've got
everyone's support and belief. You start showing your skill, physical
abilities and then you are able to overcome any obstacle on the field."