‘What kills Kaizer Chiefs poor youngsters’: Marks Maponyane

Kaizer Chiefs legend Marks Maponyane has offered a candid assessment of what undermines the confidence of the young Amakhosi players.

The Soweto giants have endured a frustrating trophy drought for nearly a decade.

Their last taste of glory came in the 2014/15 season under Stuart Baxter, winning both the MTN8 and ABSA Premiership.

Despite numerous coaching changes and player acquisitions, the situation remains unchanged.

With a massive fanbase yearning for silverware, Chiefs players including the academy graduates, face relentless criticism each season.

Maponyane believes this constant pressure to deliver results is what ultimately undermines the confidence of these promising youngsters.

He argues that young players should be introduced strategically, ideally during winning situations, rather than being expected to single-handedly turn the tide of a match.

Recalling when he started playing for the Phefeni Glamour Boys, Maponyane says he would start from the bench and only be brought on when the team is winning.

MARKS MAPONYANE – ‘THIS KILLS CONFIDENCE OF POOR YOUNGSTERS’

“Some of us have been thrown into the thick of things at the age of 18 from the bench obviously in the winning team,” said Maponyane in the interview with African Football Unfiltered with Kamo on KickOff.

“That is one point that I have to emphasise. Yes, the youngster is talented; when do you play him? You play him when the team is winning.

“Don’t kill his confidence and play him when you expect results through him. Let him enjoy, get into the groove and then he can be the star that you have seen in him.

“But once you expect results from a youngster, you’ll end up in a situation where Kaizer Chiefs is now because a lot of youngsters with a lot of potential have come in but they have also been categorised as the failures, a team that never wins any trophy.

“And this kills the confidence of the poor youngsters. Some of us when we got to Chiefs, we were coming in from the bench when it’s 2-0, 3-0.

“In the cup final, you come on, you’re leading and you score the third. That confidence comes in because it is very, very nerve-wracking, you real have butterflies to play in the cup final.

“And nobody can tell that that doesn’t happen until you’ve played a lot of cup finals. Then you start dominating them.”

Maponyane points to Real Madrid as a prime example. They frequently integrate young players into their UEFA Champions League squads for finals. Over time, these youngsters become accustomed to high-pressure matches.

As a result, they appear composed when they reach finals in future all thanks to the experience they've gained.

‘NO!…REAL MADRID IS NOT MADE FOR FINALS, THEY HAVE BEEN THERE BEFORE’

“Often, people say Real Madrid is made for cup finals. No they’re not made, they have been there before, so they are more comfortable than the opponents,” he continued.

“You can imagine what was going through (Borussia) Dortmund players’ minds (in the UEFA Champions League final). That is why they were missing chances so early when they could have been three up before Real Madrid scored.

“It’s because you’ve been there, so you’re more calm. You know what to expect and the atmosphere is not new to you. That’s how we were brought into this game by saying, ‘go there, we’re leading, just emphasise on our mission and vision’

“And the vision is to make sure that you try and win the trophy every time when you’re in it.

“Remember, there was a time when Barcelona said we don’t play any competition without aiming to win it. And that’s how it should be. But you can think that way when you have players that can do that.

“So, you’ve got to build such a team, but you build it and always bring youngsters in the background to carry that flag.”

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Nkosiyabuya Sithole

Nkosiyabuya Sithole, a young and rising sports journalist based in Durban, South Africa, harbors a deep passion for football. Nevertheless, he aspires to become a well-rounded journalist, adept in various areas of the field.

Nkosi's career began in 2020, working as a home-based writer during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has since written for various websites, including Briefly News, FiND-iT News, and The South African. Attending live sporting events is a particular pleasure for him, as they provide opportunities for interaction with sports personalities.

Outside of the office, he's a God-fearing and affable young man.