Will youth policy pay off for SuperSport?
CAPE TOWN – SuperSport United’s bravery of introducing youngsters to top-flight football this season may pay dividends next term as most clubs are bound to struggle in the next transfer window amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
This was the view of coach Kaitano Tembo, who built his squad around the club’s academy graduates and a couple of experienced campaigners - a combination that won the MTN8 title for the Tshwane-based team.
“If you look (in the PSL), we are the only team that has been consistently giving young players game time in the past two seasons. For me, that’s progress,” said Tembo, who cut his coaching teeth at the club’s academy.
With the Covid-19 pandemic having financially hurt some corporate businesses, some clubs in the PSL have been forced to consider pay cuts, as they can’t afford to pay full salaries – as sponsors have had to temporarily close down businesses.
For those clubs, this was a sign of bigger problems to come, especially with the close season transfer window around the corner, as it will be hard for them to add new players to their teams, while they’ll be forced to trim down their squads.
Sure, SuperSport may have more financial muscle – compared to other clubs – but Tembo says their gamble to integrate youngsters into the first team this season has already been a bonus heading into next season.
“We know that we are going to face difficult times with the Covid-19, there won’t be money to buy players. But that means we are already a step ahead, because we’ve got young players that are already playing Premier League football,” he said.
Such has been the prominence of some of the young players that before the Covid-19 brought the season to a halt, they were being tipped to be in the running for some of the top gongs at the PSL awards.
Sipho Mbule, 22, has dished out outings that have set him on par with the other Young PSL Player of the Season challengers, while Teboho Mokoena’s consistency could see him bag the Midfielder of the Season accolade.
It was Mbule and Mokoena’s combination that ensured SuperSport’s forwards had enough supply when they won the most rewarding domestic competition of the season in October.
The Bethlehem-born duo may have made the headlines for their seamless teamwork on and off the field, but those who are informed will tell you it was Dean Furman’s leadership in the midfield and behind the scenes that helped the duo blossom.
“It’s not easy when you lose someone like Dean. He was very important for us. But at the same time, I think we need to move forward. And for us to do that, we need to believe in what we have – the youngsters that were groomed by Dean,” Tembo said.
Jamie Webber, 22, Luke Fleurs, 20, Jesse Donn, 21, are some of the young talent that have contributed to SuperSport’s chase for a continental qualifying finish this season as they are third on the league standings.