Gone are the days when Pirates would have players such as Benedict Vilakazi, Joseph Makhanya, Lebohang Mokoena, the late Gift Leremi and Excellent Walaza coming through their ranks. These players were not only promoted, but they got an opportunity to prove themselves as regulars in the first team.
As an assistant coach to Thabo Senong in the national Under-20 team, Mkhalele is hoping to see players getting promoted and also getting opportunities to play in the first team. In the past season, Pirates hardly used young players in their team, relying on the experienced campaigners in a season they would rather forget. The likes of Sandile Mthethwa, Tercious Malepe and Yusuf Maart are either being loaned out or they are playing MultiChoice Diski Challenge football.
“We have not seen much of the youth at Pirates, but I think that is the general problem we are faced with in our country, not only at Pirates,” Mkhalele told KickOff.com, during the club’s 2017/2018 kit launch on Monday.
“They don’t get that exposure and experience to play at the highest level. I hope that the likes of Sandile Mthethwa can be introduced going forward, to be able to gain experience that will help them and the national team. That is the message I would like to give to teams, so that we can be competitive internationally.
“We saw Germany winning the [Fifa] Confederations Cup. That was not by chance. That was planned. If we can take that route, we can change the state of football in our country. We need to have ways and means to see how we can introduce these young players [at big clubs].”
Mkhalele feels Pirates need to work on the players’ mentality heading into the new season, to redeem themselves after an embarrassing 2016/2017 campaign.
“You can see they are coming from a bad season and now they should focus on the psychological part, so that they bring back the concentration, self-confidence in players and team spirit,” Mkhalele said.