Youngsters offered trial of a lifetime at Barca
JOHAN Neeskens and Benni McCarthy yesterday completed their talent-scouting mission, picking three of South Africa's young talent for a trip to Barcelona, Spain.
The Chance, an accelerated form of grassroots football development, concluded at Soccer City yesterday, when Tumelo Tsotetsi, 19, Melusi Zulu, 17, and Nicholas Mynhardt, 20, were picked by the Mamelodi Sundowns coach and Orlando Pirates striker.
"This is where things start for you. Even (former Barcelona coach) Pep Guardiola started at La Masia (the club's youth academy) as a young boy," Neeskens, himself a former Barcelona player, told the finalists.
Neeskens has returned from holiday for the start of the new Absa Premiership campaign and one of his priorities, before leaving for Swaziland for pre-season training with his club this week, was to fulfil his head scout commitment.
"All the coaches saw the same quality. And they had a better view than I did because they were working with them for over five weeks," said Neeskens.
"I don't know the players picked in other countries, but I'm sure SA's three will give them a challenge. They complement each other."
Tsotetsi, Zulu and Mynhardt along with 97 other hopefuls selected from 55 other countries will try to impress Guardiola next month at Barcelona's youth academy.
From early June, youngsters between the ages of 16 and 21 sought to crack the nod of the two Premier Soccer League figures and, sponsors Nike coaches, Shaun Bartlett, Tebogo Moloi, Arthur Zwane and Craig Rosslee.
PSL clubs, which are yet to be identified, will offer the trio some training experience before they jet off to Spain, where they will trial for a place in the elite 16-man squad to train with top European sides.
Local coaches also had an eye on some youngsters, with Maritzburg United's Ernst Middendorp and Pirates' Moloi using the event to run the rule over a few they wished to lure to their clubs.