Knowing your under-23 stars - Part IV
Posted: 28 November 2015 Time: 14:23
In the fourth and final part of the series, we profile six more Under-23 stars that will be doing duty for South Africa in Senegal over the next two weeks.
The 19-year-old is not a regular goalkeeper at Ajax Cape Town as he deputises to Anssi Jaakkola. February made his senior debut for The Urban Warriors in their 9-1 Nedbank Cup victory over Mainstay United last season. The young goalkeeper has also started two league games [against Orlando Pirates and University of Pretoria] this season. February will be competing with Ricardo Goss of Golden Arrows and Kyle Peters of Cape Town All Stars for the number one jersey in Senegal.
Paseka Mako is currently in his first season with Cape Town All Stars in the National First Division, and has started all 12 of their games thus far. The 21-year-old-year scored his first goal for his new team against FC Cape Town, which they won 2-1. The young midfielder was also formerly on the books of Mamelodi Sundowns, where he played for the reserve team.
It would have definitely been an injustice if the 20 year-old Dumisani Zuma from Hammarsdale did not make the cut for the travelling squad to Senegal. Former Benoni Premier United striker Obinna Okafor was already raving about Zuma well before he joined Celtic from Kings United at the beginning of last season. Such was his effect that in only his first season at Celtic, he was able to start 16 games and was involved in two thirds of the club’s league games finishing off with a single goal, which came in the 5-1 massacre of Polokwane City in October last season. This season he has been used sparingly but that hasn’t taken away his charm. It is all up to Owen da Gama to decide how and where to use Zuma as he is effective coming in from the wings or playing as a shadow forward.
Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Keagan Dolly is undoubtedly the most inform South African Under-23 player. Following an injury ravaged season with Ajax Cape Town last season, Dolly joined Sundowns, with the move raising many eyebrows before many suspected the youngster’s career would stagnate. But a few months into the2015/16 season, Dolly has turned on the magic to help Sundowns reach the Telkom Knockout Final. At Under-23, he will find himself in a midfield filled with familiar faces in Riyaad Norodien and Abbubaker Mobara. If the Wesbury-born attacker can take his club form to the national side, the team could well qualify for the Olympics Games for the first time since Sydney 2000.
This 20 year-old only has just one start and two substitute appearances to show for his time in the PSL this season, but has been shining in the MultiChoice Diski Challenge whenever he has played. Sibeko was also very much visible for Arrows in the first division last season, as they fought their way back to the top tier. Sibeko has a penchant of arriving in the box unnoticed due to his ability of making intelligent runs. With the ball at his feet, he can be devastating and it is not surprising that those familiar with his talent in Durban are quietly confident of his ability.
When an 18 year-old scores three goals in his first five starts in professional football then it always makes sense to stand up and start taking notice, because this is not common in South Africa. While other teenagers are still negotiating their way through the skewed development structures or holding hope of turning professional in years to come, Mahlambi has already announced his arrival in professional with a bold statement. The way he burst in making the run that led to his most recent goal for Bidvest Wits against Golden Arrows spoke loudly about his potential, pace and more importantly scoring prowess – something that South Africa is in desperate need of. He makes his under-23 debut in this tournament, and could become a key figure for the senior national team over time.