Free State Stars benefit from Orlando Pirates' decision to release Mkhwanazi

Former Orlando Pirates academy player Sandile Mkhwanazi talks to Goal about the importance of youth in South African football, and his working relationship with Stars coach Tom ...

By Shifaan Ryklief

The former Buccaneers and FC Cape Town player Sandile Mkhwanazi finally made his PSL debut this season, following his 10 years at the Orlando Pirates youth academy. According to the PSL, the Sea Robbers have registered only two under-23 players for this campaign.

Vladimir Vermezovic has also not featured those two under-23 players yet, as he has been using most of his experienced players to try and get results. 

Mkhwanazi, who was part of the Free State Stars side that drew 1-1 to Maritzburg United on Saturday afternoon, believes that the players are responding well to Tom Sainfiet's coaching style.

“We deserved to win against Maritzburg. We were the better team on the day even though we were trailing behind, but we fought until the end,” Mkhwanazi told Goal.

Ea Lla Koto conceded in the second minute of that match, which saw them play an up-tempo game, pressing the visitors high up in the attacking third. The former African Beasts player said that despite trailing that early, it was their game plan to press the Team of Choice from the first whistle.  

“He is a highly qualified coach and has lots of experience in the game of football. He’s a great coach who understands the qualities of his players,” said Mkhwanazi of their Belgian coach Saintfiet. 

Stars face a youthful Ajax Cape Town side in their next domestic league fixture away from home, and the midfielder acknowledges the young talent at the Mother City outfit.

“I don't know much about Ajax, but they have quality youngsters in the team, plus they are coached by one of the quality coaches in the league Roger de Sa, who coached me at Pirates. Youth is important because we building for future Bafana Bafana, but as youngsters we've got to work extra hard and learn a lot from our senior players, and also ask the Lord for the strength that we can do it in the professional ranks,” he concluded.