9 May 2019 – South Africa’s National Under-20 (Amajita) assistant coach Helman Mkhalele says Amajita were just unlucky to have lost in their friendly match against Panama on Wednesday, adding that things just did not go their way on the day.
Amajita went a goal down to fellow 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup participants Panama, following a goal scored by West Jesus in the 57th minute in a friendly tie which took place in Opalencia, Poland.
This encounter served as Amajita’s fourth World Cup preparation match leading to the world footballing event, following their two friendly matches against Saudi Arabia (23 & 26 April) and one against Qatar this past weekend.
The FIFA U-20 World Cup tournament is set to take place in Poland from 23 May to 15 June.
Mkhalele, though, added that this was a good exercise for the national juniors, which gave him and his fellow technical staff members an idea on which areas they still need to improve on before World Cup tournament kicks off in a few weeks time.
In the World Cup, Amajita are pitted in Group F alongside Argentina, Korea Republic and Portugal.
A top two finish in their group will guarantee them a place in the knockout stages of the tournament.
“This was a very good match for us,” Mkhalele said. “It gave us an opportunity to look at some of the players who did not play in our friendly encounter against Qatar this past weekend, which was very important for us as the technical team.
“We played really well against Panama and it was quite unfortunate that we could not to score, especially from the chances we created in the first half.”
“That goal we conceded in the second period of the match was also a teachable moment for the whole team,” Mkhalele continued. “Our players need to understand that they cannot afford to make mistakes in the rearguard as such errors might cost them a match at the end of fulltime.”
In their next matchup, Amajita will take on Ukraine on 18 May as they continued with their preparations leading up to the international footballing event.