Johannesburg - Mamelodi Sundowns development coach Mandla Mazibuko has dispelled the notion that there was a scarcity of strikers in the country, saying instead there was a talent glut.
“Coaches just need enough time to identify the youngsters’ weaknesses while perfecting all their strengths,” he told City Press.
He said youngsters needed to be developed better to fit into the system.
“Some players come from backgrounds where they are not well trained, so it will be suicidal to say there are no strikers in the country.”
“They need to be afforded time to be able to read different situations on the field.”
Mazibuko’s task is to spot fresh talent. A scout is the first port of call, as he/she makes the initial contact with players.
Three weeks ago, Mazibuko travelled to Kimberley to search for talent during the U-15 Copa Coca-Cola Northern Cape provincial tournament, won by De Aar’s Orion High School.
His mission was to get a quality striker and a goalkeeper, but he only unearthed a keeper for his academy.
“I wanted a natural striker with scoring instincts,” he says.
The passionate mentor said he didn’t get the striker he desperately wanted, but there were plenty who just needed polishing up by coaches willing to go the extra mile.
The tournament has become synonymous with assisting scouts to find raw talent for future grooming.
The Brazilians are a South African professional club who consistently send a representative to the provincial and national finals.
Mazibuko, who has produced a number of players during his time at the Esselen Park Sport School of Excellence, also had a hand in the discovery of players such as Daine Klate, Keagan Dolly, Phakamani Mahlambi and Sibongakonke Mbatha.
Mbatha represented SA at the recent Fifa Under-20 World Cup in South Korea.
Mazibuko said identifying a good player required that he should be “naturally talented especially at the Under-15 stage”.
“The player must be able to control and pass the ball and we can build him up from there.”
His latest discovery from the Said tournament is goalkeeper Khulekani Kubheka, who was with 2014 champions Clapham High School.
Kubheka was also part of the Amajita team that played at the Fifa U-20 World Cup and was called up to Bafana Bafana for the recent Chan qualifiers.
With over 1.3 million teenagers from more than 60 countries taking part, the Coca-Cola tournament is recognised globally as one of the leading grassroots football programmes in the world.
The national finals will be played in Mangaung from September 28–30.