10 young soccer stars for future
We put Bafana Bafana succession fears to bed
BAFANA Bafana will face many challenges over the coming years, but is there enough talent in the country to take us back to the top of African football? The Sports Desk looks at 10 young stars under the age of 20 who could be key to our future footballing fortunes.
Keagan Dolly (Ajax Cape Town)
Ajax Cape Town know a good youngster when they see one, and having signed Dolly from Mamelodi Sundowns' development ranks, believe he can be another star in the Steven Pienaar mould. Dolly and Pienaar do have at least one thing in common, both are from the Westbury suburb in Johannesburg.
Mbongeni Gumede (Orlando Pirates)
Gumede skippered the South African Under-20 side during their successful 8-Nations Tournament campaign earlier this year. Although his preferred position is right-back, he can operate on the left as well and therefore adds options for Orlando Pirates coach Augusto Palacios this season.
Doctor Mampuru (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Mampuru was skipper of the South African Under-23 side at the age of just 18 and made his breakthrough in the Sundowns side towards the end of last season. His bustling frame and pace down the flank make him a wing-back in the style of Brazilian great Roberto Carlos.
Siseko Manono (University of Pretoria)
Manono is in his matric year so is unlikely to see much action for AmaTuks in the first half of the season at least, but coach Steve Barker believes the striker can become a genuine star of the local game. He is a product of the Safa School of Excellence and is already catching the eye of the so-called "big clubs".
Tumelo Mopedi (Orlando Pirates)
Defensive midfielder Mopedi has already had trials in Spain and Holland with Villarreal and PSV Eindhoven respectively, and though he has not made the move to Europe yet, it seems only a matter of time. Part of the Orlando Pirates development squad, he could make a loan move to Ajax Cape Town before the transfer deadline closes to get valuable first-team experience.
Thabani Mthembu (Platinum Stars)
Mthembu was South Africa's top scorer at the recent 8- Nations Tournament with five goals and he was lavishly praised for his all-round performances. At the time he was playing for KwaZulu-Natal Vodacom League side Young Mates, but has since made the step up to the Absa Premiership with Platinum Stars. He might take some time to acclimatise in the top flight, but one thing his Under-20 performances have proven is that he is a lethal finisher in the six-yard box. Such players are in short supply in South Africa.
Thabiso Nkoana (SuperSport United)
Forward Nkoana made his breakthrough in the SuperSport United squad last season, pushing some much more experienced PSL stars to the sidelines with his energetic displays. He has pace, power and a high work-rate, and his three goals towards the back end of last season were crucial for Matsatsantsa.
Kgosi Ntlhe (Peterborough United, England)
The left-back has become a regular at English Championship side Peterborough this season, an astounding achievement for one so young. It speaks of his tremendous ability and physical stature that he can play in such a robust league at his tender age. He is already a star of the national Under-20 side and is surely the long-term successor to Tsepo Masilela in the Bafana Bafana set-up.
Ayanda Patosi (Lokeren, Belgium)
Patosi is a huge rising star in Belgium where he plays for Lokeren, having been handed a key playmaking role in midfield for the club this season. It is his second year in Europe and although he has not received a national call-up yet, it is surely only a matter of time. Excellent skill on the ball, good set-piece delivery and an eye for goal are his hallmarks.
Siyabonga Thwala (AmaZulu)
Striker Thwala got his chance towards the end of last season at Usuthu and has played in the opening games of this campaign as well. He has great physical strength for his age, and is already a leading star for the national Under-20 side.