Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba believes coaching at youth level has been the difference between the provincial teams and clubs that are taking part in the SAFA U17 Inter-Provincial Tournament at the Nike Football Training Centre.

South African Under-23 National Team coach Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba believes coaching at youth level has been the difference between the provincial teams and clubs that are taking part in the SAFA U17 Inter-Provincial Tournament at the Nike Football Training Centre.

Mashaba is one of the talent scouts on the lookout for upcoming stars taking part in the tournament. He says he has been impressed by the kind of football played by the invited clubs and also from some provincial teams.

“This tournament is long overdue, but what has become evident at these games is the level of coaching. I think our coaching department still has a lot of work to do in terms of finding more coaches and I know there is a plan in the pipeline that SAFA earmarks developing coaches over a certain period. I think those will be the coaches who will help with the problem that we are sitting with,” said Mashaba.

“Some of the players are doing things instinctively and this shows us that we need to tighten up the side of coaching as well to give these players what they deserve – the basics for playing football. We speak of players having ‘football brains’ and this you can pick up mostly with teams from the clubs. There is a lot of difference if you look at the teams from the likes of Kaizer Chiefs, Bidvest Wits and Mamelodi Sundowns – they have qualified, experienced coaches and there is some consistency in the coaching of these boys. Once we collectively start taking that route of uplifting our coaches, our problems will be solved.”

Mashaba, who led the Men’s U17 and U20 National Teams to victory in the COSAFA Cup, said theirs is an important task at the SAFA U17 Inter-Provincial Tournament.

“The ultimate purpose of us being here is to obviously look at selecting players who will form a base for some of our junior national teams so that we have a pool of players we can select and also have on standby. We will also look at recommending some of these players to the academies until such time we have enough academies in the country where we can select the best in each province. I think that is the route that we have been missing all the time,” added Mashaba.

“One other thing with events like these is that players pick up as the tournament progresses, but we just hope that fatigue doesn’t derail that progress.”

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