Coaches prepare Ke Yona team for Stars showdown

The football pitch battle lines have been drawn as an agile 2018 Nedbank Ke Yona Team are set to go against recent Nedbank Cup Champions Free State Stars in a spectacular showdown of experience and talent. The Ke Yona Team rookies will go head to head with the Premier Soccer League (PSL) veterans in the annual Nedbank Ke Yona Challenge. The much-anticipated game will be played at the Makhulong Stadium, Tembisa on the 9th of September with kick-off scheduled for 15h00.

During last years Nedbank Ke Yona Team Challenge, the professional football aspirants made history by scoring the team’s first ever goal in open play against two time Nedbank Cup Champion Supersport United, courtesy of graduate striker Zanoxolo Mduli. The 2018 Team has ambitions of making a history of their own, with their sights set on beating a well-experienced Ea Lla Koto side. The team selectors Khabo Zondo and Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba together with their technical staff have been hard at work, preparing the excited group of youngsters physically, mentally and tactically for the showdown against a seasoned Free State Stars.

Speaking at the match day state of readiness Press conference held at the Nedbank Head Office today, team selector Khabo Zondo acknowledged that the game will be tough, but remained adamant that they had done enough to match Ea Lla Koto pound for pound. “The current Free State Stars team has physically strong and hard tackling, experienced players such as Mahamutsa and Masehe who solidify the team’s rigid defence. We know from experience that it is never easy for a team of amateur players to go against a top professional outfit of Free State Stars’ calibre. Our biggest concern has always been player fitness and this is an aspect that we constantly had to work on as the Ke Yona Team will need to last a full 90 minutes and match the pace of their senior counterparts, a first-time experience for most of the players. We believe that we have put a lot of training hours into preparing the team well ahead of the Challenge.” Said Zondo.

“We had only a few months to work on the various aspects of the game, however, we ensured that we pay attention to each player’s individual talent, skills and abilities, with hopes of making the young lads better players long after the Ke Yona Programme has come to an end. We look at the likes of 2017 Eastern Cape Motherwell born Ke Yona graduate and Bloemfontein Celtic midfielder Bongani Sam who is a direct result of the Ke Yona Team Search and we marvel at how he is making use of the opportunity that the platform has provided him. Sam has managed to score his first PSL goal against Orlando Pirates as well as win a man of the match award when his team played against Kaizer Chiefs on the 29th of August. This is what we want to see as the end result of our combined labour as both selectors and players.” Added Mashaba.

The Ke Yona Team has over the years played against Nedbank Cup Champions Kaizer Chiefs in 2013, Orlando Pirates in 2014, Mamelodi Sundowns in 2015 and consecutively played SuperSport United in 2016 and 2017 after Matsatsantsa were crowned victors in both years. The 2018 Nedbank Cup Ke Yona Challenge, will be a first-time experience for Free State Stars after the club claimed full honours against Maritzburg United in a 1-0 win during the Nedbank Cup Final earlier this year.

On the importance of the Ke Yona Team Search, Free State Stars Assistant Coach Selaotse Mosala said “The Ke Yona Team Search has produced some remarkable talent through out the past few years. Look at Bongani Mbuli for instance; he is a good youngster who is training very well and works very hard. He needs some time to adapt to the PSL and to improve tactically, as well as adapt to the speed of our training. He is strong and quite quick for a centre-back, but at the moment we need more experience in matches. For him it is a matter of being coached properly and we are working very hard on that with him. He now has a contract in the PSL, but sometimes you still need extra training. Not in terms of fitness, but about being more accurate and precise in what you do.”

“We wish the Ke Yona Team good luck for Sunday’s match, we hope that more stars can come from the banks football development programme” conclude Mosala.

Nedbank, in an effort to bring customers closer to their passion point and help them remain financially savvy is giving away math day tickets and football lovers are encouraged to redeem these tickets by heading to their nearest Computicket and Shoprite/Checkers stores. Fans need only to produce their South African Identity Documents to claim their tickets, which are limited to two tickets per individual.

“The Nedbank Ke Yona Challenge continues to be a great platform for the community to really connect with the country’s most loved sport. Soccer lovers will have the opportunity to see football differently from what they are used to. A true battle of David and Goliath where anything is possible. “Said Nedbank Head: Group Sponsorship and Cause Marketing, Tobie Badenhorst. “In addition to the football talent that will be on display, we have an exceptional line up of entertainment for the fans and for those who cannot attend the match, as it will be televised LIVE. We advise fans to arrive early at the stadium so as to not miss out on the live pre-match entertainment.” concluded Badenhorst.

The Nedbank Ke Yona Challenge will be broadcast on SABC 1 and Supersport Channel 204; with build-up starting at 14h30 and kick-off scheduled for 15h00.

“Suited for each” other hit maker Shekinah will be performing LIVE at Makhulong stadium before the match kicks off.