Bullish Amajita tackle Ghana ahead of AFCONThomas Kwenaite
The South African National U-20 side Amajita will play Ghana in friendly match on Monday, 28 January leading up to their first CAF Africa Under-20 Cup of Nations Group A match against the hosts Niger.
Amajita are in Group A alongside Niger, Burundi and Nigeria.
A top four finish in this eight-nation continental tournament will see Amajita book their place in this year’s FIFA Under-20 World Cup set to take place in Poland from 23 May — 15 June.
The friendly match will take place in the city of Niamey, where Amajita will play their two group matches against hosts Niger and Burundi before they travel to Maradi for their final group encounter against fierce rivals Nigeria.
Speaking after Amajita’s first training session after arriving in Niamey on Thursday Amajita coach Thabo Senong said this friendly will play a key role in helping his charges to understand what it would be expected of them when the tournament kicks off.
“For us, this friendly is about getting our side to adapt to the conditions they will be playing in this tournament,” Senong said. “We chose Ghana because they possess similar West African characteristics in their play with the countries we would be playing against in our group.
“Ghana is very strong both physically and technically,” Senong added. “This encounter will help us to assess how far we have come in our preparations, and what are some of the few things we need to address with the players before this tournament kicks off.”
The South Africans suffered a major blow ahead of the tournament when French Ligue 1 side Monaco prevented 18-year old striker Lyle Foster from joining the team after signing him on a five year contract two weeks ago.
Foster has been the lead striker for Senong’s team and top scored in the recent COSAFA Cup which South Africa won in Zambia during December and Senong was pinning his hopes on the lanky former Orlando Pirates youngster to continue with his scoring form in Niger.
Safa President Dr Danny Jordaan took time out of his busy schedule to come and wished the team well at the SAFA Technical Centre outside Johannesburg for their upcoming CAF Africa Under-20 Cup of Nations tournament.
Jordaan made it clear to the SA juniors that he had absolute faith in them; that he believed they would make the country proud by doing well in this year’s eight-nation continental football showdown.
Meanwhile, Amajita captain Khulekani Kubheka said listening to the president speak during his visit rekindled the fire in them to continue wanting to produce positive results for the nation.
“The president made mention of legends like Doctor Khumalo, the late Phil Masinga, Mark Fish, Quinton Fortune and the like, and how they fought for the badge each time they donned national colours,” Kubheka said.
“These are the guys we look up to as national junior players because they did extremely well during their time when representing the nation at the highest level. We want to do the same as well.”