8 months ago
Players practise dribbling skills and try to catch the eye of Ke Yona Team Search coaches during try-outs at Rand Stadium. Photos by Themba Makofane  ~ 

NEDBANK Ke Yona team coach Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba says they have it far from easy in choosing SA’s best amateur soccer players to go into battle against the Nedbank Cup champions next month.

The Ke Yona Team Search try-outs concluded at Rand Stadium last weekend.

On Friday, tournament coaches Mashaba, Khabo Zondo, Mike Mangena and Owen Da Gama will announce the names of the 48 players who will be joining them at boot camp from 17 June.

This is the fifth edition of the Ke Yona Team Search campaign and follows four successful annual events that have seen several talented players emerge to ply their trade in the National First Division and even the Absa Premiership.

The 48 players joining boot camp will be trimmed down to 32, with 16 sent home. The next step will be cutting back to 25, before the final selection of 18 players who will clash with either SuperSport United or Orlando Pirates in the popular friendly.

More than 5 000 aspiring footballers who hope to follow in the footsteps of a player like Ian Chikowa have paraded their skills in front of the try-out coaches. At Rand Stadium alone the eagle-eyed mentors saw an estimated 700 amateurs in action.

Mashaba, former Bafana Bafana coach, said this year’s try-outs were difficult for them as selectors because at a certain point they had to forget about the criteria and make a plan to accommodate the talent they saw throughout their trip .

He said: “We have not really been sticking to the criteria – we have had to be flexible. At this level it’s not easy to find a complete player. Players also differ from one region to the next, they often specialise in different positions.

“We are deliberating, finalising the list of 48 for boot camp. We saw good players in places such as Port Elizabeth, Durban and Joburg. We were impressed.”

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