Santos coach Mart Nooij believes he has a squad of players who can take the club back into the Absa Premiership next season. This is despite the loss of some of their top talent at the end of the last campaign.
The Dutch tactician has been tasked with guiding the Cape Town club back into the top-flight following their surprise relegation last season.
And despite the loss of Bafana Bafana internationals Erwin Isaacs, Wayne Arendse and Eleazar Rodgers, Nooij is upbeat about their chances.
“We have a lot of good players who have left and they have been replaced by mostly younger guys from our academy,” Nooij says. “We have one (Fagrie Lakay) who is just 15 and another (Suhayl Allie) who is 17.
“But I am quite happy with these guys, I selected them along with the chairman (Goolam Allie) and I think they can help us to fulfill our ambitions, which is play good football and attract people to the stadium, and of course to return to the Premier League.”
Nooij is under no illusions that the National First Division will be an easy place for his side to play, with the physicality of the opponents sometimes trumpeting skill.
“Santos does not belong in the First Division, but we have to face up to the reality that we are here. We are in the middle of this situation. It will be very hard, it is a very tough competition, but this squad can help us to achieve our goals.”
Santos unveiled their new signings on Tuesday, which included the acquisition of former Bafana Bafana international Nasief Morris on a permanent basis from SuperSport United, as well as Kenyan international centre-back Brian Mandela Onyango.