The Burger King-sponsored South African U20 Men’s National Team gets their 2017 FIFA U20 World Cup campaign with a tricky clash against Japan.
The two nations clash in Group D on Sunday, 21 May 2017 at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, Korea Republic.
Kickoff is scheduled for 17h00 local time (10h00 SA time).
“We have come a long way as a team to be where we are today and we have done everything we need to do – what awaits us is the kick off against Japan and we just cant wait. Our preparations have gone according to plan and we hope that everything we learnt we will implement in the game,” said Tercious Malepe, Amajita captain.
“I have to take this opportunity, on behalf of all the players, to thank SAFA and our sponsors Burger King for all the support they have given us up to this point. What is left is for us to get onto the field, do the business and make everyone proud. We are confident we will do well because we have all been saying we are not here to add the numbers but to compete.”
Malepe adds that even though they will be on the field, the support from the fans back home will be crucial.
“We come here as ambassadors of our country and the support from all the people back home will give us that extra boost to tackle the task ahead. Japan comes here at the back of a decorated history in the World Cup with eight appearances, compared to our two – but what matters is what happens on the day. We are determined to get our 2017 campaign off to a good start and knowing the fans are behind us all the way back home will make the mission all the more easier,” added Malepe.
“Another thing that gives us confidence is that we are representing not only our country but also the Southern African region and the entire continent of Africa (alongside Zambia, Guinea, and Senegal). So there is a lot at stake here but we will go out there and do our best. And lastly, there are a lot of bad things happening in our country, we hope to get a win so as to create that good feel atmosphere and bring back hope into our people.”
South Africa last qualified for the FIFA U20 World Cup in 2009 where they finished in the Round of 16 after being knocked out by Ghana.
Head coach Serame Letsoaka, with Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana defender Ramahlwe Mphahlele as the captain led the team.
This will be their third appearance – 2007, 2009, 2017.
The last time Japan were at this tournament was back in 2007, and now return after a ten-year absence for their 9th appearance.
They enjoyed their best place finish in 2009 when they walked away with silver – after suffering a 4-0 drubbing at the hand of Spain in the final.
SA WC History:
- 2009 – Round of 16
- 2011 – Did not qualify
- 2013 – Did not qualify
- 2015 – Did not qualify
- 2017 – QUALIFIED
- SA making their third appearance at the tournament – 2007, 2009, 2017
JAPAN WC HISTORY:
- 2009 Did not qualify
- 2011 Did not qualify
- 2013 Did not qualify
- 2015 Did not qualify
- 2017 QUALIFIED
- Japan making their 9th appearance at the tournament – 1979, 95, 97, 99, 2001, 03, 05, 07, 17
- Best result – Runners-Up in 1999