Head of Development at Bidvest Wits, Ashley Makhanya, has been full of praise for the club’s MultiChoice Diski Challenge team.

Speaking to this past week, Makhanya underlined the importance of the country’s reserve league to developing the club’s youth players and readying them for the first team.

Simphiwe Mabena’s solitary goal spearheaded Bidvest Wits to a 1-0 win over Polokwane City on Saturday, and within a point of MDC leaders Mamelodi Sundowns after 20 rounds of fixtures.

“The season has been great, firstly because we have a very young team this year and we have guys playing in the MDC for the first time, and they have applied themselves very well,” said Makhanya.

“Not only if you look at the results and at the log standings, if you look at the performance as a group and those young individuals it paints a very positive picture.

“It is important to bridge the gap: You come from youth football, LFA level and you need that bridge to go into the first team. If you go from U19 to first team level, there is a big gap so you need the MDC to prepare the players to make that jump into the PSL level. In my opinion, the MDC fills that role very well: it is competitive and you play against all the other PSL teams. You have 30 games a season so at the end of a season you can gauge a players level of how ready he is to play 1st team football.”

Both Molahlehi Khunyedi and Rowan Human have featured for the club’s first team this season and Makhanya is hopeful that more players will follow in their path.

Makhanya continued: “We have to keep working the way we have been doing. Finishing at the top would be a bonus, if you look at the individual performances that are getting better game by game: that is the most important factor. As of now, we already have two players that have joined the PSL team. If we win the actual league, that will be a bonus, but if you have two or three guys graduating to the first team – that is the main objective and a big achievement for the club. They [Khunyedi and Human] have done very well: They have applied themselves very well and you can see the confidence in their game which is the main thing, the mental characteristics to compete at that level. They are under the guidance of a capable coach (Dillion Sheppard) and if they stay positive I’m very optimistic that they will continue to do very well.”