Stelllenbosch FC coach Steve Barker has talked up the prospects of Tanzanian wonderkid Ally Msengi who is on the books of the South African Premier Soccer League side.
Barker's Stellenbosch signed Msengi from Vodacom Premier Leagues side Kinondoni Municipal Council Football Club - KMC - during the January transfer window and the 18-year-old made his debut in the 1-0 home loss to Mamelodi Sundowns‚ the Winelands club's final fixture before the coronavirus outbreak brought football to a halt in the country.
Having unearthed talents like Bafana Bafana duo Andile Jali and Bongani Zungu, the tactician is renowned for his ability to nurture and develop young talent and has spoken highly of the Tanzania junior international's prospects.
"As a footballer, we got to know about him through his agent Keegan [Wasserfall] who works with Paul Mitchell," Barker told the South African Football Journalists Association (Safja) in a virtual press conference.
"And you know we are always on the lookout for young talented players and he made us aware of a player from Tanzania and we did our due diligence and watched some matches of his.
"And invited him for a two-week assessment and he came and did really well. It was sort of the end of November last year and we then decided that we would love to give him the opportunity.
"And he's grown from stature and I really feel he's got a strong future in the game.
"To the degree that I think he has the potential to kick on and play at a higher level, so we are looking forward to continuing working with him.
"It's frustrating when an 18-year-old breaks on the scene, makes his first start against Mamelodi Sundowns and then hasn't been able to play for the last five months, it's a bit frustrating at that age not to be playing, it takes back your development for quite a while.
"He's a really good footballer, a good person, great character and hard-working, he has all the great attributes to become somebody special."
Msengi did not travel back to Tanzania while the country has been on lockdown for the last four months and Barker also praised the character shown by the teenager despite being away from his family since December 2019.
"Ally is one of those players that my heart sort of goes out to," added Barker.
"He turned 18, I think it was the 20th of December last year, he then joined us in the last week of December and has not been able to go home since then.
"You know he had mentally prepared himself to go home at the end of the season in May. Now he came to a different country, young and was sort of in lockdown in a room on his own for four months and now not having an opportunity that we are back, to go see his family.
"We are not sure when he can go visit his family when the flights open up, you know it can only make him stronger as a person.
"And he's come through it really well."
With the Premier Soccer League scheduled to return soon and with Stellies left with six matches until the end of the season, Msengi will look to add to his one appearance.