Rising Santos and South Africa star Junaid Lakay hopes to earn European interest in Dubai tournament
Posted: 3 April 2018 Time: 20:30
Cape Town-based starlet Junaid Lakay spoke to Kickoff.com about his lofty ambitions and promising career ahead of a dream trip to Dubai.
Lakay will be one of an exclusive selection of talented youngsters competing against the esteemed ASPIREAcademy and a couple of English-based outfits affiliated with Liverpool legends Robbie Fowler and Steven Gerrard.
Former World Cup and Golden Ball winner Ronaldo de Lima from Brazil and a Colombia-based Sports Academy are also said to be involved in the prestigious tournament - as teenagers from Bloemfontein and Cape Town were selected to represent South Africa in the Dubai Super Cup U16 elite group this month.
Lakay, 14, is one of the standout members of the squad, described as a pacy, attacking left-back with incredible technical ability that's often seen him compared to Chelsea's Marcos Alonso due to the similar playing style.
The soft-spoken teenager, who currently plies his trade with former ABSA Premiership side Santos, has risen quickly through the ranks at the People's Team and has attracted interest from Old Mutual Academy and a top-flight side after an eye-catching season in the youth ranks, where he netted an incredible eight direct free-kicks within a league-winning campaign in the Cape District.
Lakay, who was invited to train with the national U17 side last year and the U20 Futsal team preparing for the World Cup in Colombia, could not contain his excitement upon being questioned over the impending trip with Simsport international, the only FIFA Match approved agency in Southern Africa - ahead of his flight on Saturday.
"I'm hoping to be scouted in Dubai by a major European team to be honest, as I've seen how fellow youngsters fall upon the wayside aiming to break into the professional ranks in South Africa," he tells KickOff.
"I want to go straight to Europe and forge my career where my development will be accelerated, and I can be exposed to better coaching systems."
Currently under the guidance of former Orlando Pirates development coach Ebrahim Layman, who worked with the legendary Augusto Palacios, Lakay admits he's been 'lucky' to start his fledgeling career under the skilled coach, who is said to have identified his leadership skills as one of his biggest assets.
It remains to be seen how far the teenager will go in the game, but according to a source close to the club, Lakay has been earmarked as one of the most talented youngsters from the Santos Academy - which has produced the likes of Wayne Arendse, Erwin Isaacs, Tyren Arendse and more recently the youngest ever Bafana Bafana debutant Fagrie Lakay.