Eric Tinkler backing for Letsie Koapeng
Posted: 10 February 2017 Time: 19:03
Cape Town City coach Eric Tinkler is excited at what January recruit Letsi Koapeng brings to his squad, having tracked the youngster for over a decade.
The 25-year-old former youth international was a deadline day acquisition for the Citizens, with Tinkler explaining how he recruited the talented forward.
“Letsie Koapeng is a boy I’ve known since he was 15,” he told reporters. “I found him playing for Wits juniors, and I saw him score seven goals in that game, so we brought him into the Wits academy.
"I really thought he would go a long, long way, and I think he’s just been slightly unlucky in his career due to the fact that Wits didn’t solely rely on their youth anymore and started bringing in experienced players.
"That then took him out of the picture, and he was sent out on loan to a number of lower division teams, where I don’t think he got the type of support he needed."
Koapeng then joined Orlando Pirates in 2014, after being released by The Clever Boys, but speant most of his time on loan at Royal Eagles and then Chippa United as he battled to break into the Bucs first team.
“I gave him an opportunity to join us at Orlando Pirates last season, but there as well, it was more of an opportunity to keep him ticking over because the harsh reality was that there weren’t many teams out there who wanted him – nobody really knew about him," he added. "And at Pirates, he didn’t really get a chance to play either, other than the Nedbank ke Yona game, in which he scored.”
Tinkler admits he helped secure Koapeng’s move to Stellenbosch at the start of the season, where he scored four goals in 12 games, before being roped in by City.
“I had a hand in him moving to Stellenbosch – I spoke to [coach] Sammy Troughton at the beginning of the season, telling him to look at Koapeng and saying he had a lot of potential,” he continued.
“He then did extremely well, so it made sense to bring him in at City and add a little bit more depth in terms of our attacking strength.”
After impressing during training, Koapeng was handed a starting berth in City’s midweek fixture against Highlands Park, netting the second in a 3-0 win to round off a perfect debut.
“When [Lehlohonolo] Majoro picked up a bit of a hamstring niggle in training, the young boy stood up and after scoring a lot of goals in training, it made sense that he should be in the starting line-up against Highlands Park – and it was the right decision,” Tinkler said. “He did well, and the competition now is good and healthy.”