Nduduzo Sibiya has played a key role in both of Arrows' last two Nedbank Cup wins. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
DURBAN - The development wing of Golden Arrows came in for praise after they beat Platinum Stars to reach the Nedbank Cup semi-finals over the weekend.

The Durban side edged Platinum 1-0 courtesy of a first half header from defensive midfielder Musa Bilankulu at their home base in KwaMashu on Saturday.

Youngster Romario Dlamini made his debut at left-back during the solid rearguard effort by Arrows, who were fortunate not to concede late in the tie when Platinum ramped up the pressure with the introduction of striker Henrico Botes.

"Our defence was outstanding. We had Dlamini making his debut as a fullback. He’s only 19 and he didn’t disappoint, giving a sterling performance,” said Arrows coach Clinton Larsen of the teenager who played with composure next to central defenders Nkanyiso Mngwengwe and Limbikani Mzava.

The coach lauded his club’s youth structure for churning out players such as Dlamini and attacker Nduduzo Sibiya, who supplied the corner that led to the goal.

“Here 17 of the 30 players are under 23 years of age, and we probably have the youngest average age in the league, so I’m very proud of the development of players from the Under-19 to the Diski team and to the PSL team.

“Credit must go to Papi (Zothwane) and Kanu (Vusumuzi Vilakazi) for their efforts, as well as to the Under-17 coach,” said Larsen.

In the previous round Sibiya, 22, did the business with the only goal away against Mamelodi Sundowns. Reaching this far with Arrows in the cup was significant compared to when he won the Telkom Knockout with Bloemfontein Celtic, noted Larsen, because at his former club he had a much more experienced squad compared to this one which won promotion two seasons ago and still relies on the bulk of that group.

In addition Arrows have maintained a top eight place throughout this campaign, which also pleased the Durban-born tactician.

As for the draw on Monday night, the most that Larsen hopes for is home advantage. “You can’t choose your opponent but at least we hope that we get a home draw. The supporters have been great so far and it would be nice to repay them by taking the team into the final,” said the coach.

SuperSport and Pirates were stretched into penalties and extra-time against Kaizer Chiefs and Bloemfontein Celtic respectively in the weekend’s other quarter-finals, and Chippa overcame lower division side Jomo Cosmos to advance.

The winner of the country’s national knockout tournament will bank R7-million in prize money and qualify for the CAF Confederation Cup.

The Star