JOHANNESBURG - Junior international midfielder Thabani Zuke has been challenged to kick on from the recent Cosafa Under-20 Championship victory and break into the Golden Arrows senior team and national Under-23 squad.
The 19-year-old defensive midfielder featured in all South Africa’s matches en route to lifting the Cosafa U20 title in Zambia last month, and was recently earmarked for a place in the Arrows Absa Premiership squad for the second half of the season.
It is up to him to make the most of the opportunities that come his way, said Arrows chief executive Gordon Masondo.
“A lot of the boys from our Multichoice Diski Challenge side are raising their hands. They are all eligible to play for the first team, but Zuke has won the Cosafa Cup and is up as the favourite because he’s coming from the national team.
“Our reserve team and senior team players train together so there should be no surprise if a player makes the step up. It’s only about pushing to make their debut now.”
Zuke was among two recent additions to the Arrows squad. The other was veteran midfielder Danny Venter, who transferred from Free State Stars where he saw little first team action under new coach Luc Eymael this term.
Arrows let go of midfielder Vuyani Ntanga, who was a fringe player under coach Clinton Larsen since his arrival from Bloemfontein Celtic last season.
While Venter’s experience would be handy to guide the inexperienced players, Masondo said Arrows had a tradition of grooming youngsters, and it was up to players like Zuke to grab the initiative when given a run.
“The national Under-20 coach Thabo Senong gave me a report on Zuke’s performance in Zambia, and told me what they think of the player when he represents the country. A lot of good things were said about Zuke,” Masondo said.
“Now we would like to see the national team coaches give him a call-up at different levels. Maybe he can be rewarded with an Under-23 call-up to be part of the squad?
“But ultimately it is up to him. There is no other way but for Zuke to take the baton and run. And once he does the business at club level he can’t be ignored for national call-ups.”.
Arrows restart the Premiership campaign with a visit to Celtic on Sunday. Two points separate 10th-placed Abafana Bes’thende from Celtic, who are positioned sixth and have played one match less.