The South African Football Association (SAFA) is working round the clock finalize the paperwork of a South African born player featuring for one of Europe’s top clubs in in time for the third and final qualifying round of the Niger 2019 U-20 tournament.
Keith Groenewald is an exceptionally talented 18-year old defender on the books of Standard Liege. He was identified by head coach Thabo Senong as someone who could add value to the country but had already represented Belgium at youth level.
However, he is still eligible to represent South Africa, the country of his birth and after lengthy discussions with Senong, the boy decided to represent South Africa and was part of the squad that prepared for the second round qualifying fixture against Mozambique.
South Africa defeated Mozambique 4-1 on aggregate to qualify for the last round of the competition. But Groenewald was not part of the playing personnel due to the fact that the organization was still busy with his paperwork at the Department of Home Affairs.
“Fortunately our next fixture against Malawi is only due during the second week of July,” said Senong who expressed a great desire to include the Belgium-based defender in the two-legged fixture against Malawi.
“I wouldn’t know how far the process has gone but Team Manager Levy Ramajoe is handling the matter and I trust that by the time we go to the next camp ahead of the match, the paperwork should be complete.”
When contacted for comment, Ramajoe revealed that Groenewald’s paperwork will be complete before the end of this week after Home Affairs indicated that everything has been completed to their satisfaction and he should get his passport before Friday.
Although several PSL clubs withdrew their players from camp, citing the delicate nature of the final match of the season which could have seen others relegated or qualifying for the top eight, Senong’s boys dug deep to emerge 3-0 winners over Mozambique.
The first leg match was a 1-1 stalemate in Beira, but Orlando Pirates Lyle Foster grabbed a double and Kaizer Chiefs Wiseman Meyiwa added a third, to lead South Africa to a comfortable 4-1 aggregate triumph.
The winners of the next seven ties with join hosts Niger in an eight-nation tournament where the top four will qualify for the World Cup in Poland.
FINAL ROUND FIXTURES:
South Africa vs Malawi
Cameroon vs Mali
Gabon vs Burkina Faso
Ghana vs Benin
Mauritania vs Nigeria
Burkina Faso vs Gabon
Zambia vs Burundi