Last week FARPost started a feature that looks into some of South Africa’s most promising youngsters going through the system at clubs all over Europe and now we continue profiling more of these young players while looking into their careers in the next few years.
1. KOBAMELO KODISANG
Probably one of South Africa’s most experienced players at youth international level Kodisang made his senior club debut back when he was with Platinum Stars debuting as a 15-year-old for the former North West-based side.
Kodisang has made some strides from being one of the youngest to feature in the PSL to playing in three youth international World Cups with South Africa and now signed by one of Portugal’s big clubs in SC Braga.
He currently plays for Braga’s B team while looking to impress coach Carlos Carvalhal to give him a shot in the first team. Kodisang was one of the players who qualified South Africa for her second consecutive Olympics in Tokyo next year. The 21-year-old signed a three-year-deal with Braga that is set to keep him with the club until June 2022 as he looks to establish himself in Portugal. The winger can make his first team debut anytime and once he plays for Braga the sky is the limit with Braga producing players to Europe’s top leagues like Spain and English Premier League.
2. KHANYA LESHABELA
In January 2019 the Leicester City midfielder signed a three-and-a-half year contract with the ‘Foxes’ after going through the club’s youth set up since 2013 impressing in the process.
The 21-year-old recently told this publication that manager Brendan Rodgers wants him to stay put at King Power as he looks to integrate him into the first team of the former English Champions. Playing for Leicester will open doors for the Soshanguve born midfielder as we have recently seen players like Ben Chidwell and Harry Maguire leave Leicester to join some of England’s top clubs, with a few seasons at King Power, Leshabela can make big moves in future.
3. ANDRAS NEMETH
Having already made his first team debut while on loan at Belgian Proximus League side SK Lommel the 17-year-old teenager was once again loaned out to the club for the 2020/21 season to gain more experience. Two years ago Genk had to tie down Nemeth after a number of Premier League and Spanish La Liga clubs wanted the teenager to sign for them. Genk is one of the biggest clubs in Belgium and Nemeth is expected back playing for them at his young age which might have him moving to the big leagues in the next two to three years.
4. THUTO MOJANAGA
The SuperSport United product Thuto Mojanaga, who’s 13, is going through the ranks of Dutch Eredivisie side PEC Zwolle and he has vowed that by the age of 18 he would want to make his first team debut. Mojanaga currently plays for Zwolle’s U15 team where he has developed himself as one of their key players in that central attacking midfield role.
5. PHARREL SWARTS
The 16-year-old has gone from strength to strength since moving from Randburg FC to Belgium and ultimately joining Dutch second tier side MVV Maastricht in the recent transfer window. Swarts who is a left footed attacking midfielder-cum-winger is fighting to establish himself in the youth set up of Maastricht while working towards making his first team debut in the near future for the Dutch Eerste Divisie that is known for promoting young players and putting them up in the market for Eredivisie clubs.
6. ALWANDE ROALDSOY
Having recently signed a three-year-deal with Italian Serie A side Atalanta Calcio the 16-year-old’s route is quite clear for the next three to five years – impressing the development squad and he might be given a contract extension at the club. The midfielder has already started making an impact with the club’s development having bagged his first goal last weekend in a 3-2 win against Inter Milan.
7. AKIEL RAFFIE
Having joined English League One side Fleetwood Town as a 10-year-old and went through the system for seven years Raffie has recently been with the club’s first team trying to force his way into coach Joey Barton’s team.
He recently impressed in the EFL Cup against Aston Villa, something that Barton also came out saying he was very impressed with after having coached Raffie since the team returned from the Covid-19 break.
Fleetwood is a team known for its great development with world class facilities and belief in youth. Over 10 youth players have been given their first team debuts in the last year alone under Barton who believes in youth. Raffie will be fighting to make his bow soon and hopefully be signed by a Premier League team or Championship team in the next few seasons.
8. TASHREEQ MATTHEWS
The Cape Town-born winger was once dubbed as one of South Africa’s most promising youngsters after his move to German Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund two years ago. Matthews featured regularly for Dortmund’s U19 in the league and the UEFA Youth League before loans to Utrecht and Helsingborg. The 20-year-old then signed a permanent deal with Allsvenskan side Varbergs BoIS where he has been getting the much needed game time needed by a player his age.
Matthews has featured in over 15 league games for Varbergs scoring one goal and assisting a further strike in the process. There is no doubt of the winger’s quality and should he start putting out some good performances he might attract the big boys like he did when he signed for Dortmund two years ago and from there the world is his oyster.
9. NIKOLA TAVARES
Crystal Palace U-23 captain Nikola Tavares has already made the first team bench a couple of times in the past year and with the aging Palace defence the Cape Town-born centre back might have a future at Selhurst Park. The 21-year-old has been unfortunate with injuries already this season, but is nearing a return to action in November and he will be pushing to make his first team debut soon.
Tavares told this publication that his aim is to make his debut as soon as possible, but if all fails a move away in January will be important as he looks to start playing regular first team football. The centre back has a big advantage with his height, speed and physique with many clubs looking for those attributes in a modern day footballer.
10. THABO CELE
In 2017 when Cele was signed by Portuguese giants SL Benfica it showed the potential the KZN Academy graduate has, although he ended up leaving Benfica the 23-year-old has been consistently playing first team football in Portugal for Cova Di Piedade where he is in his third season now with the club.
Cele was one of the stand out performers for Coach Thabo Senong at the 2017 U-20 World Cup alongside Teboho Mokoena and Wisemen Meyiwa in midfield and if anything, the midfielder’s qualities will help him reach his goals of one day playing in the UEFA Champions League.
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By Prince Sobayeni