11 April 2019 – Even the smallest margin of errors committed in South Africa’s National Under-20’s (Amajita) defensive third, irks centre-back Givemore Khupe.
And that is mainly because the 19-year old Cape Umoya FC defender takes personal pride in being meticulous in what he does on the field of play especially each time he is called to represent his country.
At last year’s COSAFA Under-20 Championship tournament where Amajita defended their Southern regional football championship title, Khupe was the voice, the Commander in Chief, at which Amajita’s defensive third operated in sync at his command.
Goalkeeper and captain, Khulekani Kubheka, had a lot less to deal with in goal because his rearguard stretched every part of their ligaments and tendons, just to keep him unbothered in his position at most times.
South Africa conceded just a single goal after four matches played throughout that tournament.
The impetus behind Khupe’s performance in that tournament was wanting to show Amajita coach Thabo Senong that he wanted to be part of his plans going in the coming year’s U-20 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Niger tournament.
Khupe had missed out on both the 2017 AFCON and 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup edition, following a knee injury he had gotten earlier in that year.
“I got that injury in February 2017,” Khupe says. “I was so devastated. Devastated because I so wanted to be part of that squad. I watched both the AFCON and the 2017 U-20 World Cup on TV at home. I never missed a single game. I so wanted to be there.
“And that is why I play the way like I do each time I am get a call-up and also an opportunity to represent my country on the pitch,” Khupe adds. “I play not only for myself but for my fellow teammates and millions of South Africans who are watching us back at home.
“I just hate underperforming and disappointing at that level.”
Asked how did it feel like to form part of the Amajita 2019 squad which qualified for this year’s upcoming FIFA U-20 World Cup tournament set to take place in Poland, Khupe said: “It was a dream come true for me. The coach even entrusted me with the responsibility of captaining the team in our opening group match against the hosts (Niger), while Kubheka was serving his suspension.
“My head was exploding with both adrenaline and excitement on the day. We came out with a positive result (1-1) which I believe played a part in helping us to fight for a top four World Cup qualification finish in that AFCON tournament.”
Amajita will report for the FIFA U-20 World Cup preparation camp on 17 April, just two days before they travel to Saudi Arabia for their scheduled two friendly matches against their fellow FIFA U-20 World Cup participants.
Those matches will take place on 22 and 25 April before they fly out to Europe for their other two lined up friendly matches against, also FIFA U-20 World Cup-bound, Uruguay and Ukraine.
Those matches will take place on 15 May and 18 May respectively before the tournament kicks off on 23 May.
Khupe, who was included in Senong’s recent provisional 26-man squad, added that he will do everything in his power to make the final 21-man Amajita World Cup squad.
“Nothing beats hard work,” says the determined Khupe.
Age (date of birth): 19, 20 December 1999
Province: Mpumalanga, Machadodorp
Club: Cape Umoya FC
Previous Club: Bidvest Wits, Hillbrow Action FC and Inner Ambassadors FC
Caps: U-20 17
Name of School: matriculated