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Highlands Park coach Owen da Gama delighted with the change in the U-23 rule in the National First Division

Posted: 15 December 2017 Time: 19:45

Highlands Park coach Owen da Gama says the change of the Under-23 rule in the National First Division has been key to their success so far in the second tier.

Highlands are top of the standings heading into round 15 and will be guaranteed top spot at the end of the year even if they do not win their game against Cape Town All Stars at Makhulong Stadium tomorrow (14h00).

Da Gama says the change in the U-23 rule, which now says clubs can play two players under the age of 23, has helped them. Previously clubs had to play with five U-23 players.

The difference between this season and last is that you can use two U-23 players. You must have three on the bench,” Da Gama says.

“If you make changes, you must make sure that you always finish the game with two U-23 players. It has made the league more competitive.”

The former Bafana Bafana assistant coach says it’s difficult to analyse opponents in the First Division because they cannot get footage of the games they play.

“It’s a hard league because we don’t have TV footage and we only see highlights a week later. It’s difficult to assess opponents and work out plans to face other teams. A lot of teams play differently at home and away. But what I can say is that the standard in the First Division has gone up compared to the last time I coached in this league. People are hungry to win games so that they can get promoted.”

He adds: “We keep quiet and don’t make a noise. We will keep working hard.”

NFD fixtures:

Saturday (all kick off at 15h30 unless stated otherwise)

Highlands Park v Cape Town All Stars, Makhulong Stadium (14h00)

Richard Bay FC v Black Leopards, Umhlathuze Sports Complex

Mbombela United v Uthongathi FC, Kanyamazane Stadium

Witbank Spurs v Stellenbosch Puma Rugby Stadium

Tshakuma Tsha Madzivhandila v Super Eagles, Thohoyandou Stadium

University of Pretoria v Real Kings, Tuks Stadium

Royal Eagles v Ubuntu, Harry Gwala Stadium


Jomo Cosmos v Mthatha Bucks, Voslorus Stadium

Article by: Tshepang Mailwane
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