Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp not happy with MDC

04 December 2019 - 15:50
By Marc Strydom
Absa Premiership coach of the month for August Ernst Middendorp.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix Absa Premiership coach of the month for August Ernst Middendorp.

The Multichoice Diski Challenge (MDC) reserve league’s new under-21 ruling is proving problematic for Premier Soccer League (PSL) teams as it removes an avenue to rehabilitate players returning from injury‚ Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp has said.

Since its launch in 2015‚ the MDC has proved a valuable accelerator of young talent who used to sit idle for too long on the benches of PSL teams‚ giving them a platform to showcase their abilities and push for first team places.

The MDC was expanded with much fanfare from a single to a full double-round season in May‚ ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Simultaneously it also had a new U-21 age restriction applied.

This aims to accelerate the development aspect of the league further.

The drawback is that it removes one of the core functions of a reserve league‚ which is that it provides PSL coaches with a place to field players of all ages returning from injury‚ earning them crucial competitive game time before they return to first team action.

“This is definitely a very huge handicap for all of us‚” Middendorp said‚ asked about this complication that has arisen from the U-21 ruling.

“I think not only players like Sizwe Twala or Happy Mashiane‚ who are out of this age range.

“It would be great like we now have done with Njabulo Blom and Nkosingiphile Ngcobo [both U-21]‚ getting them into training sessions with the MDC team‚ playing on the weekend.

“And if there were a possibility for saying two or three [overage players] at least‚ we definitely would play around with certain numbers to get it there.

“But there is a link missing in producing match-fit‚ competitive players.

“You can organise a match internally. But this is not the same as when you have a competitive league – by far not.

"This is definitely somewhere where we are missing something.”

The MDC is described on the website of Multichoice’s sports pay-channel SuperSport as the company's “flagship corporate responsibility programme”‚ because one of its aims is to “fast track the development of young players into the PSL”.

However‚ this leaves a competition that was initially launched as a reserve league with an identity crisis.

The league would seem to need to be one or the other – a reserve league‚ or an U-21 development league.

If the MDC remained U-21‚ but allowed three or four overage players‚ it could then serve both purposes.