3 October 2019 – Interim coach of the South African U-17 Men’s National Team, Vela Khumalo, has admitted that he and his technical staff will have a pleasant headache in trimming down the squad of 32 players to the required 20 for this year’s COSAFA U-17 Men’s Championship.

This comes after Khumalo appraised the level of talent he has roped in, following their training at the SAFA Technical Centre (Fun Valley) on Thursday, 3 October. He added that he was impressed with the quality his charges have displayed so far in their preparation camp.

Amajimbos reported for camp on Tuesday (2 October).

The tournament is scheduled take place in Blantyre, Malawi from 11 — 20 October.

“It is very crucial to take the best of the best in this group consisting mostly of the U-14 and U-15 players, as that will help them to have an experienced U-17 side when they compete in next year’s COSAFA U-17 Men’s Championship,” said Khumalo.

Next year’s COSAFA tournament will double as the 2021 U-17 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, where the 2021 FIFA U-17 World Cup participants will be decided.

“We want to build a team that will compete in both of those tournaments, and ultimately push for a spot in the 2021 FIFA U-17 World Cup tournament,” said Khumalo.

“I am happy with what I have seen so far in our preparation camp. The boys have been responding really well and I am also pleased with their professional attitude they have shown as up and coming footballers. I would also like to thank all the parents, schools and clubs for allowing us to have these players at this time of the year. We truly appreciate their unwavering support as we continue in working really hard in getting a balanced squad for this year’s COSAFA tournament.”

Khumalo also thanked both Bafana Bafana assistant coach, Arthur Zwane, and South Africa’s National Under-23 assistant coach, Kwanele Kopo, in making time out of their busy schedule to come and observe his training session with his charges.

“I spoke to both coach Zwane and Kopo after our training session and they were very impressed with what they saw in our session,” added Khumalo.

“They also had some encouraging words to give to this players, urging them to never stop following their dreams, which is good for the confidence of these young players.”