09 October 2019 — South Africa’s National Under-17 (Amajimbos) side will jet off to Malawi on Wednesday morning ahead of this year’s COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship set to run from 11 — 20 October in the city of Blantyre. 

Amajimbos’ interim coach, Vela Khumalo, expressed his delight over how their preparations went, adding that his charges are now ready for the battle that is up ahead. 

In this year’s COSAFA Men’s Under-17 edition, Amajimbos have been pitted in Group A alongside hosts Malawi, Zambia and Eswatini. 

A top two finish in that group will guarantee them a place into the knockout stages of the Southern regional football tournament set to take place on 18 October. 

And though Khumalo has assembled a young squad with the intention of giving them the needed playing experience leading up to next year’s 2021 U-17 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, the coach stated that he is fully confident that his team will do well in Malawi. 

“In all the years that I have served as an assistant coach in the Amajimbos setup, I truly believe that this is a very strong side that we have assembled here,” Khumalo said. “This is a group consisting of Under-14s and Under-15s because we are building for next year’s U-17 AFCON qualifiers and I believe the boys will do well in this year’s COSAFA tournament, too. 

“Our ultimate goal is to qualify for 2021 FIFA U-17 World Cup tournament, and this is the group that has all the potential to get us there. We will continue monitoring their growth and progress in their respective clubs even after this COSAFA tournament comes to an end.”

Asked what he thought of their Group A opponents, Khumalo said: “It is definitely not going to be an easy group to compete in because we will be playing against first, Malawi, who will be highly motivated to do well against us in front of their home crowd. Zambia and Eswatini will also be driven for winning results in their respective matches against us, too. However, I have all the confidence in the world that this Amajimbos team will do well in each of their group fixtures.

“Our ambition is to top our group and possibly fight for a place in this year’s final.”