Palacios: Timing is everything

Lourenco and Maart have both been showing glimpses of their potential in Pirates’ Multichoice Diski Challenge teams over the past two seasons, but have yet to make the step-up to the first team.

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The 22-year-old attacking midfielders have since trained with the seniors, but have yet to earn official contracts in the way defensive midfielder Siphumelele Mbulu recently did.

Palacios, who has been a servant to the Buccaneers at both youth and senior levels for over 30 years, has defended the logic behind leaving the duo lay in wait.

“An important point to consider is, why are you promoting players? Because sometimes you promote just for the sake of it? No,” argued the Peruvian coach.

“Check the squad first, because sometimes you duplicate players and the players in the team are on a good level, now where will the promoted player play?

“You need to promote players at the right time, when the team is in a good moment, and the players who will be promoted must have space to play.”

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Pirates seem to be in a “good moment” at present, vying for the Absa Premiership crown for the first time in five years, on the back of their dismal showing last season.

With just one point separating them from log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, who have a game in hand, some would argue that there is no better time to blood in deserving youth players.

However, Palacios has warned against having too many players competing for one particular position, and feels it is better to wait for a plausible reason to promote, such as the possible departure of a current first team player.

“Promotion is not about doing it because you want to, because [for example] you have Lyle Foster, the two Zambian players, Gabuza – four strikers,” he added.

“In my time, I had five – Benni [McCarthy], [Tokelo] Rantie, ‘Drogba’ [Bongani Ndulula], [Ndumiso] Mabena and ‘Juju’ [Thulasizwe] Mbuyane, and it was very difficult.

“Sometimes people might say, ‘Why is the coach changing the formation?’ It is because some players are sitting on the bench for too long.

“So, for me, you have to promote players at the correct time and correct moment. The key is to look at when you have to replace in a specific position.

“Let’s say, in the defence, Happy Jele will retire in two or three years, so let’s look at replacing him; Lyle Foster might stay or go, so let’s find a replacement – that’s where the development comes in.

“It’s not about just training the players in a squad of 20-30 and saying, ‘I promoted players’. No, that’s not the objective.”

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