Kaizer Chiefs’ new commander-in-chief Gavin Hunt has over the years proven that he is not shy to give talented and upcoming youngsters an opportunity at the highest level.
In his first-ever game in charge at Chiefs, the fearless Hunt gave the likes of Nkosingiphile Ngcobo, Njabulo Blom and Happy Mashiane a run in the 2-1 win against Maritzburg United courtesy of a brace from Man of the Match Yagan Sasman in the MTN8 quarterfinals at FNB Stadium on Sunday.
The experienced mentor’s astute judgement to throw youngsters in the deep end has yielded the desired results.
Hunt was impressed with what he saw from the ‘Amakhosi’ youth development graduates, coached and nurtured by his assistant coach and strong advisor Arthur Zwane in the Multichoice Diski Challenge (MDC).
“There is this youngster we have, what’s his name again? It’s [Njabulo] Blom. I think he is the future; he has huge ability and I’ve only worked with him for a week. But I have already been impressed with him,” said Hunt.
The 56-year-old former Bidvest Wits coach said he had thought of starting Blom against The Team of Choice but decided against it as he wants to bring the youngster into the team gradually.
“I didn’t want to start him, but maybe I should have, but that’s in hindsight. He is certainly the one for me. I thought he can cover distances; he’s got the engine and he can play.
“Just 30 seconds after going in, he played that long ball to (Bernard) Parker and he could have scored. Blom has got a range of passing, he’s a full package in midfield and I think he’s got it, so it worked but he is a young player.
“And he needs time. I will give him the time, work with him and show him a few things and see how it goes,” added Hunt.
The Cape Town-born coach is responsible for handing Bafana Bafana legend and all-time top goal scorer Benni McCarthy his big break as a 17-year-old boy and has promoted stars such as Phakamani Mahlambi, Abednego Mosiatlhaga, Reeve Frosler and more recently Rowan Human from the Wits academy ranks into top-flight football.
“I thought the kids did well. I thought the goal boy [Sasman] – he’s a player for me. He can play. Blom came in, changed the game. He’s another one, a youngster. Happy – came in on the left.
“These are the ones for the future. I’ve got a few more here. I’ll keep blooding them and keep playing them. But we can’t play them just for the sake of playing them. We’ve got to play them for the right reasons. It’ll take hopefully not too much time,” concluded Hunt.
The former SuperSport United coach is expected to return the glory days to the Soweto giants. He is a proven winner with eight titles to his name, which includes four Premiership titles, three with SuperSport United and one with the defunct Wits.
Chiefs begin their DStv Premiership campaign with a tough assignment as they host defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns at FNB Stadium on Saturday.
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By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi
All pictures courtesy of Kaizer Chiefs