Stuart Baxter impressed with Teboho Mokoena for taking his chances in SuperSport United first-team
Posted: 8 May 2017 Time: 13:53
SuperSport United coach Stuart Baxter admits Teboho Mokoena has been given much more game time than anticipated but says he is delighted with how the youngster has taken his chances.
The 20-year-old, who will be part of Thabo Senong's Amajita squad that will jet off out of the country on Wednesday for this month’s FIFA Under-20 World Cup in South Korea, has grown in stature during his eight league appearances this term, most of which have come since the turn of the year.
Mokoena was a fearless figure in the Nedbank Cup quarter-final against Kaizer Chiefs, scoring one of the penalties in the shoot outs as Baxter's side advanced to the semi-finals, while he has also featured regularly in United’s CAF Confederation Cup campaign.
During this past weekend's win over against Polokwane City, he grabbed an assist with a superb cross for Morgan Gould's thumping header in the first minute the game and continued to be unmatched throughout, breaking the play down and complimenting well with captain Dean Furman and Reneilwe Letsholonyane in the midfield.
Baxter, who will leave SuperSport for Bafana at the end of the season, said Mokoena's introduction to first-team football has been similar to Chiefs defender Lorenzo Gordinho when the coach was in charge of Amakhosi, although this time round SuperSport’s limited squad means the youngster has been thrown in at the deep end.
"People talk a lot about blooding youngsters, giving youngsters a chance. Let's say, when I was at Chiefs, Lorenzo Gordinho was in the same situation as Teboho [Mokeona],” said Baxter.
"We had a lot of good, experienced players so you don't throw five or six kids in at the same time because it's not fair to them, they can't show what they can do, so Lorenzo [Gordinho] got brought in and he played right-back a little bit, he played in the middle [centre-back], he was on the bench.
"He [Gordinho] gradually [came into the team], even now when he's brought in, he can hold his own. Teboho is exactly the same and we are trying to blood him carefully.
"But when you have a small squad and many games - he [Mokoena] has probably got few more games then we planned for him as we see he's showing character, as we see he's up for it, then I don't think we should hold him back.
"Therefore, it's not me giving him the chance, it's him taking chances that he gets and that is why he's still in the picture."
Having given South Africans a glimpse of his abilities in the PSL, a lot is expected from Mokoena when Bafana Bafana’s juniors play their first game of the U20 World Cup against Japan on May 21 at the Suwon World Cup Stadium.