JOHANNESBURG – Nedbank Ke Yona Team Search selector Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba has tipped Lunathi Mdatyulwa to be one of the 'precious finds' to come out of the academy.
On Sunday, Mdatyulwa became the second ever 'Ke Yona' player after Zamuxolo Mduli to score for his team against the Nedbank Cup winners. The Hout Bay-born aspiring footballer scored a terrific strike in the 2-1 loss to Free State Stars at Makhulong Stadium in the sixth edition of the competition.
“He doesn’t go for serious passes, but the damaging ones,” Mashaba said. “It’s seldom you see his one-two combination plays at the higher levels of football.”
Although the Ke Yona team succumbed to Stars, the 21-year-old central midfielder was voted as the stand-out player of the match. Mdatyulwa hails from the ranks of Ajax Cape Town juniors, hence ‘Shakes’, is adamant that by now he should be at least plying his trade in the NFD.
“It’s surprising this boy (Mdatyulwa) doesn't have a contract,” Mashaba insisted. “Maybe there are things that we do not know. We’ve got good players but unfortunately they were not exposed, and it’s a problem they are sitting with.”
As per agreement with the PSL, all 16 players of the Ke Yona team will be drafted to teams in top-flight football for trials. Mashaba also confirmed that Stars' coach Luc Eymael has also made inquiries about two players, including goalkeeper Thabo Mgotsi. Eymael says if South Africa can implement such initiatives on a four-year plan, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
“You guys are born skilful, and that’s a blessing from God,” Eymael said.
“What is lacking is the academy, organisation and development of the young players. But when you start with these small ideas, you’ll go far.”
Notable graduates from the Ke Yona Team Search include: Aubrey Modiba (SuperSport United and Bafana Bafana), Bongani Sam (Bloemfontein Celtic), Bongani Mbuli (Free State Stars) and Ricardo Versuur (Highlands Park).