Platinum Stars coach Willem Jackson revealed that he took a massive gamble by fielding Kobamelo Kodisang, the youngster who shone for Dikwena in a 2-1 victory over Orlando Pirates during the MultiChoice Diski Challenge in Pretoria at the weekend.
Jackson says he initially wanted to rest midfielder Kodisang on Sunday afternoon. But, the 15-year-old was a threat to the Pirates defence which was being marshalled by veteran Rooi Mahamutsa from the moment he stepped on to the pitch. Pirates were quick off the blocks taking a 12th minute lead through Sibusiso Mahlangu before Kodisang inspired Stars to a superb comeback with a well taken brace.
“Kobamelo is turning 16 and he is a very good player. He’s been in our academy for three years. He has been working very hard. He played a full game on Saturday. I gambled to play him today (Sunday). I had a talk with him and after I spoke to him before the game, you could see that the boy is eager and he came and scored two goals,” said Jackson, a former Pirates defender.
Jackson also attributes the comeback to senior player Edgar Manaka, a new recruit who’s building match fitness in the Diski Challenge before moving on to the first team.
“Normally when you are one goal down, the players heads tend to drop. Having a senior player who can encourage the youngsters like Manaka did on Sunday, makes a huge difference” said Jackson.
Jackson, who is also assistant coach of Stars’ first team, believes the MultiChoice Diski Challenge will see a lot of youngsters breaking into senior teams in numbers. He was impressed by the displays of various teams during the weekend’s football festival held at the University of Pretoria.
“It was very good what I saw during the weekend. I watched a number of games. It was a good eye opener for a lot of PSL teams. There are a lot of youngsters. I am proud, not only about my players, but all the players that I watched. Some of the youngsters gave senior players first teamers a big challenge,” continued Jackson, whose side collected six points with two wins over the weekend.
“This is a good platform for youth. Maybe if they started three years back after the World Cup, it would have been a major success. We would have 18-year-olds and 19-year-olds playing in the PSL now. The last time a 16-year-old started in the PSL was at Ajax Cape Town a few years ago. We need that back again.”