13 May 2018– Head coach of the Burger King-sponsored South African U20 Men’s National Team (Amajita), Thabo Senong, believes his side stands a good chance of proceeding to the next round of the CAF U20 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. This comes after Amajita held Mozambique to a 1-1 draw in the first leg played on Saturday, 12 May 2018 at Campo de Ferroviaro da Beira in Beira City, Mozambique.
South Africa scored in the 61st minute but could not hold on to their lead as the hosts levelled matters just eight minutes from time. But Senong is proud of his charges, who were playing together for the first time.
“Well done to our boys, under difficult circumstances. The heat was unbearable in Beira; the pitch was very heavy and for our boys to score an away goal I applaud them. We just need to go back home and prepare for the second leg, which we know will not be easy because Mozambique is a very good side. They had three weeks to prepare for us and this was our first official match. We are gel-ing very well and I think we have a good chance in the second leg,” said Senong.
South Africa missed a couple of clear chances, which could have changed the script, but Senong is excited that his boys were able to find the back of the net – a very crucial goal which could come in handy in the second leg.
“I have no doubt that in South Africa in the second leg we will definitely get a positive result because the away goal will work in our advantage. We created a lot of chances but were lacking in composure,” added Senong. “It’s not easy to score an away goal, and having done so against Mozambique puts us in a strong position over the two legs. If we score one goal in South Africa, we will be in the driving seat, but we have to work hard to get that goal, then we will be able to control the match without any pressure.”
Amajita returned home on Sunday, 13 May and will continue with preparations for the second leg scheduled for Sunday, 20 May at Moruleng Stadium near Rustenburg. The squad will hold a training upon arrival (Sunday evening) with another one scheduled for Monday morning (14 May) before moving their base camp to Rustenburg in the afternoon.
Senong was also impressed by the almost full house at the match venue, which he believes affected his players in the early stages of the match.
“Well done to the people of Mozambique, they came out in big numbers just to support their U20 side – and maybe that could have disturbed our debutants but within 20 minutes the players realised that it’s only important to focus on the game and not worry about the intimidating crowd,” said Senong. “It’s part of our development. We are developing players to play under tough conditions, and this exercise was a good one to develop the mental toughness of our players and I have no doubth that they will grow to become top players for U23 and Bafana Bafana.”
Senong has urged the people Moruleng to also come in numbers to support the players so South Africa can move to the second leg.