Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs are amongst the biggest teams in Mzansi and are expected to be the backbone of our national teams from junior level up to the senior team.
In the early 2000s, they were, indeed the spine of the nation at all levels as you would find Patrick Mbuthu, Jabu Pule, Vilakazi, Steve Lekoelea, Gift Leremi, Botsotso Makhanya, Junior Khanye, Thabiso Malatsi, Lebogang Mokoena, Excellent Walaza, Itumeleng Khune, Senzo Meyiwa and co. representing South Africa at junior levels. They were all coming from Chiefs and Pirates and most of them were developed by these two teams. But lately, they hardly promote players, and even when they do so, they promote them to put them on loan them or add numbers to the first team.
Big teams around the world invest a lot in their development structures where they sign teenagers and they give them chance. This includes the likes of Kylian Mbappe of Monaco and Marcus Rashford of Man United. They are looking for quality youngsters, but, when our “big three” battle it out for a Zimbabwean 27-year-old defender, will we ever watch 18-year-old player starting for Chiefs? When will Wiseman Meyiwa play fo the first team? What are Pirates waiting for before they give Tercious Malepe first team game time? Where is Emmanuel Letlotlo?
Our big teams are struggling to develop players and that’s why South Africa’s national teams will never achieve. You will see our teams going for Pienaar instead of young players, while only Bidvest Wits, Ajax Cape Town and SuperSport United are producing talent. Pirates and Chiefs are treating football like a business these days, and it’s sad for our country.
*This article was written by a Soccer Laduma reader and reflects their opinion, not that of Soccer Laduma.