5 September 2017 – Stand-in head coach of the South African U20 Men’s National Team, Helman Mkhalele, says he is pleased with the way his charges performed against England in the second match of the tri-nations tournament that came to an end in England on Monday, 4 September 2017.

The Burger King-sponsored Amajita recovered from a 4-0 loss to Brazil the previous week (Wednesday, 30 August) to beat the host nation 2-1 at Harrison Park in Leek Town.

Two goals either side of the half from Lyle Foster and Tashreeq Matthews were enough to see the South African romp home to victory.

“It was a great win, we really didn’t do well against Brazil and we needed this victory. These past few days we had to work on their mental strength of the boys. This time our tactical organisation defensively had to improve because against the South Americans there were too many spaces in between and our reaction was too slow as players were not able to read the situations quick enough, and we were poor going forward,” said an elated Mkhalele.

He was also pleased that the goal-scoring burden was not left to the strikers – Matthews, who scored the second goal, was playing in midfield.

“We could have done better in terms of scoring goals, but I am happy we had two players score and not put our hope on the strikers. I am very happy with the entire team’s performance, their attitude and work rate was unbelievable,” said Mkhalele.

“Coming back from the big loss against Brazil, the mental toughness of these boys was pleasing to see – they stayed positive saying they can beat England in their own backyard. From the first whistle they went there with courage and character, adding to the tactical plan that we had. We didn’t have enough time to work with them, but the few days we had bore fruit.”

Midnight Express, as Mkhalele was known in his playing days, says the two matches were an appropriate exercise.

“It was a great learning curve for all, especially the players who are new to the international scene. It was also used to improve those who have been around the national team set-up because we played two quality teams. They learnt of the quality of the passes, match intelligence, creating space and also the reaction after you lose the ball. I think this has been of great benefit, and for some players this will take them to greater heights,” concluded the stand-in head coach.

“The victory means a lot to the team, but more so to me as an individual after being given the task of leading the team. The win came as a relief after being beaten by Brazil with a huge margin. We gave England a soft goal in the dying minutes, and that’s another lesson to the boys not to lose concentration until the final whistle. But I am impressed with the way the tournament ended. This was a worthwhile trip.”

After three rounds of matches in the tri-nations tournament, here’s what happened:

Brazil                        4 – 0        South Africa

England                    0 – 0        Brazil

England                    1 – 2        South Africa

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