21 May 2018– Head coach of the Burger-King sponsored Amajita, Thabo Senong, says their 3-0 victory over Mozambique in the second leg second round of the CAF U20 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers boils down to good preparation.
The South African U20 Men’s National Team brushed aside the Mambinhas at Moruleng Stadium near Rustenburg on Sunday (20 May 2018) to win 4-1 on aggregate.
The first leg ended with a 1-1 draw.
“Well done to the boys, they worked very hard to score the three important goals because we always knew that Mozambique will be a difficult team to beat as they are a quality team, so we needed to make sure that we convert our chances as early as possible and make sure we dominate other areas of the game like setplays, our defending and the transitions,” said Senong.
“It all boils down to good preparation and we have always believed in the boys and in what we are doing. But I believe with more time this team can be much better than this. With the limited time we had, we focused on the important aspects so that we can get results, because at the end of the day football is about results.”
Midfielder Wiseman Meyiwa opened the scoring in the 9thminute before striker Lyle Foster chipped in with a brace in the 32ndand 66thminutes.
Goalkeeper and captain, Khulekani Kubheka was also in fine form as he saved a penalty in the match, something Senong says was expected.
“Again I say preparation is key – we worked on penalties and set-plays the entire week. All our goalkeepers in the squad are always ready to help the team in critical phases of the match, even in penalties – and we were not surpirsed when Khulekani saved that penalty because that is what he has been doing at training, he looked confident,” added Senong.
South Africa will now face Malawi in the third and final round of the qualifiers, scheduled for July.
“Our Road to Niger is really proving to be a difficult one. We are playing very ambitious teams that have prepared well. First it was Mozambique, who were not easy to beat, now it’s Malawi, one of the teams doing well in COSAFA. They are scoring a lot of goals, but they are also conceding. We need to work hard in our preparation to defeat them, but it will require a collective from everyone,” said Senong.
Senong is also saaware that Malawi turned the tables on Angola in the second leg as they won 4-1 away in Luanda, this after losing 2-1 at home.
The Malawians go through on an aggregate score of 5-3.
“Football has changed – teams are now experiencing a lot of pressure at home because of expectations from their fans, so that puts them in an anxiety mode. I am not surprised that Malawi battled to play at home, and the same with Angola at home. You can see with our match as well – we had a good game away, and Mozambique played better than us in South Africa,” said Senong.
The next qualifiers are two months away, and with clubs enjoying an off-season break, Senong is worried about the condition the players will return in to face such a tough task.
But they will be giving the boys individual training programmes to ensure they stay in good shape and be ready for Malawi.
South Africa will host the first leg on the weekend of 13 – 15 July, with the return leg set to be played in Malawi the following weekend (20 – 22 July).
The overall winner will qualify for the 2019 CAF Africa Cup of Nations to be hosted by Niger – where they top four countries at the 8-nation event will qualify for the 2019 FIFA U20 World Cup, which will be held in Poland.