Make or break season for 5 Diski Challenge players

If anything is to go by from the success stories of the MultiChoice Diski Challenge in the past five seasons, then South African football appears to be heading in the right direction when it comes to development. However, while a bulk of Diski Challenge graduates have grabbed the opportunity to play for the first team by the scruff of the neck, there’s a fragment of players that have shown a glimmer of readiness to ascend to the elite league and haven’t quite realised their true potentials. Below, we look at five players that need to use the newly expanded sixth edition of the Diski Challenge to catch the attention of first team scouts.

SIYANDA MSANI – MAMELODI SUNDOWNS

Msani may not have the much-needed aerial presence for a left-back, but his tactical and technical abilities cut him above head and shoulders from his counterparts. Add to the fact that, Msani appears to understand his duties defensively and up front. Although he hardly puts a foot wrong, but it will definitely take a great effort from him to successfully knock on the door of coach Pitso Mosimane, who boasts seasoned campaigners Tebogo Langerman and Lyle Lakay in the first team. But while Msani may still come short in getting the nod from Mosimane’s bench even this season, but the newly expanded MDC league will definitely give him an opportunity to fine-tune his game, even if it’s for a loan stint to the second-tier division.

SANELE TSHABALALA – KAIZER CHIEFS

Having left Braamfontein-based side Bidvest Wits to join neighbours Chiefs last term, success is in the eye of Tshabalala. Chiefs boasts an impressive record of having arguably produced the best goalkeepers in the PSL era. Brian Baloyi, Rowen Fernandez and current Bafana Bafana No 1 Itumeleng Khune, graduated from the Chiefs’ development and the world became their oyster. Recently, Bruce Bvuma, who’s served Chiefs’ MDC side with distinction in the past few seasons, is reaping the fruits of his labour under first team incumbent Ernst Middendorp. Tshabalala, like the rest of his predecessors, has the required resources to take his game to the next level.

TSHANINI FALAKHE – GOLDEN ARROWS

With Arrows making it vividly clear that they are not a buying club, Falakhe has to lament his previous inabilities to crack it in the first team to his own peril. After dominating the Diski, where they bagged their second Diski Challenge crown two seasons ago, players such as Nkosinathi Sibisi, Siphamandla Sabelo and Siboniso Conco graduated to Abafana Bes’thende first team - where they’ve donned the green and yellow jersey of the team with aplomb. However, Falakhe, who was also part of the 2017/2018 season winning class, hadn’t fully convinced about his readiness for the big league then. But having played all Arrows’ matches in the Diski Challenge and Shield last season, this term gifts the 21-year-old left-footer with an opportunity to be consistent week in-and-out.

OSWIN APPOLIS – SUPERSPORT UNITED

Signed from football academy heavyweights Ajax Cape Town in January, Appolis has the perfect background that will enable him to reach his full potentials in the future. In the last six months of working with Dutch-born mentor Nicholaas Labohm, Appolis became an integral part of the Pretoria-based club, inspiring the team to a fourth finish in the Premiership standings. Add to the fact that, the Capetonian-born footballer’s impressive exploits didn’t go unnoticed by then Amajita coach Thabo Senong, with the former making the provincial squad for this year’s Fifa Under-20 World Cup in Poland.

PROMISE MKHUMA – MAMELODI SUNDOWNS

Having been one of the standout performers for Sundowns in the last two seasons, Mkhuma is well aware that he’s in a race against time to take his game to the next level. Following impressive exploits for Amajita in the 2018 Cosafa Championships, the 19-year-old winger became a hot property locally and abroad. However, that glimmer of hope to ascend the cooperate ladder at Sundowns in the second half of last season was dashed, following an uninspiring outing for Amajita in the Africa Youth Championship and Fifa World Cup. But next term, Mkhuma will get a chance start on a clean slate, a stage where he can revive somewhat what was a promising career.