FORMER Highlanders coach Bongani Mafu has heaped praise on coach Baltemar Brito for his gamble with young players who he says are the future of the club.
Mafu, credited for giving ex-Bosso and Warriors striker Prince Dube an opportunity to play for the Highlanders senior team at a tender age, said the move by Brito also motivates developmental coaches.
After coming in at the beginning of June, the Portuguese national promoted 16-year-old attacking midfielder Prince Ndlovu, Mason Mushore (20), defender Nigel Ncube (21) and striker Daniel Msendami (22) from developmental side Bosso 90, coached by Shepherd Mabaleka.
Additionally, Brito also gave 20-year-old goalkeeper Raphael Pitisi a debut against Yadah on Friday, replacing veteran Ariel Sibanda with Bosso leading 3-0 but had to endure nervy moments as the Miracle Boys fought back with two late goals.
The Portuguese national also brought in the young Ndlovu for Navaya and Mushore for Devine Mhindirira 11 minutes before full time.
Mafu hailed Brito’s gamble to give the young players game time.
“Coach Brito has come in with a breath of fresh air especially for the coaches coaching in the junior leagues. These guys work day in, day out in the heat of the sun producing young players. Some coaches have not given them a chance, which is also not their fault because of the demand for results. Brito has come in and is giving the players an opportunity and we were in dire need of that. Without that, our succession system in the country will be dead. If Willard Katsande stops playing football, we are stuck because we never groomed anyone to take over. Coach Brito and coach Joel Luphahla have done well,” Mafu said.
His sentiments were echoed by former Highlanders captain Dazzy Kapenya, who coaches Falcon College in Esigodini.
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“It's a very good decision and in the right direction. We all came in through the developmental sides and we were given opportunities to showcase our talent at senior level. What would be the point of having development structures when we don't promote good players to the senior team? I'm not saying we shouldn't have seasoned or experienced players in the team but it's all up to the coach on how he chooses to use his players, but the bottom line is that the juniors are the future of the game,” Kapenya said.
Highlanders have moved up to fourth on the log table, but Brito insists that he is building a team that will compete for the league title next season.
Other young players that have been given a shot at Highlanders include Darlington Mukuli, Muziwakhe Dlamini, Mthabisi Ncube with other young and experienced players in Mhindirira and Andrew Mbeba, both aged 21.
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