14 May 2018 – Captain of the Burger King-sponsored South African U20 Men’s National Team (Amajita), Khulekani Kubheka, says they need to be focused so they can finish off Mozambique when the two nations collide again for the second leg of the CAF U20 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
South Africa held Mozambique to a 1-1 draw on Saturday (12 May) away in Beira City – scoring an all-important away goal at Campo de Ferroviaro da Beira.
“I think it was a very good game and a very difficult one but my teammates handled it very well. You could see that Mozambique had a good game plan, they came very prepared. To go out there and put a solid performance like that gives us a solid foundation for the second leg,” said Kubheka.
“The coaches did a good job trying to bring us together and helping us adapt to the situation and surroundings as quickly as possible, and the guys responded well to that. Everybody had their part to play and did so very well. We just have to focus and finish the job at home.”
Amajita were the first to draw blood on Saturday against the Mambinhas with a 63rd minute strike from Tashreeq Matthews, but the visitors could not hold on to their lead as they let the hosts back in with a goal from their captain Kamo-Kamo just eight minutes from the final whistle.
But the former goalkeeper of the South African U17 Men’s National Team (Amajimbos) believes the away goal was very crucial.
“They know that, as it stands, we have the upper hand. They are playing away but I don’t think they are going to sit back and let us take the game to them. With this away goal we scored they are going to come at us, so we need to be very alert and focused – we should not take it lightly that we got an away goal and relax.”
With head coach Thabo Senong building a new U20 squad, Kubheka has so far been given the nod to wear the captain’s armband and lead the team, a position he doesn’t take for granted.
“Leading anything, especially something that you love is a big honour. I love playing for my country and I love playing football so being captain of such a great group of players and of the national team is indeed a real honour. I cannot thank the coaches enough for entrusting me with this huge responsibility. I would just like to thank players for their support and motivating me,” said Kubheka.
The South Africans are back home and already got down to business to prepare for the second leg by holding a training session on Sunday night (13 May) at the Nike Football Training Centre in Soweto.
Amajita will move to Rustenburg on Monday afternoon (14 May 2018) where they will continue with preparations for the second leg, which is set for Sunday, 20 May at Moruleng Stadium at 15h00.
A goalless draw will see South Africa proceed to the next round on the away goal rule while a 1-1 all draw after full time will result in a penalty shoot-out.
A draw of two goals each (2-2, 3-3) or more, will see Mozambique go through on the away goal rule
The overall winner between South Africa and Mozambique will meet the winner between Malawi and Angola – at this point it seems like Angola, who won 2-1 away.
The victorious country in the third and final round of the qualifiers will book their place in the eight-nation CAF U20 Africa Cup of Nations tournament, which will take place in Niger from 24 February to 12 March 2019.
The top four teams at this competition will be Africa’s representatives at the 2019 FIFA U20 World Cup in Poland.