7 October 2022 – The road to the 2023 Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt begins this weekend when South Africa’s Under-20 coach Vela Khumalo leads his charges in the COSAFA Qualifier Tournament in Eswatini this weekend.

Khumalo arrived in Eswatini with several objectives in mind as the COSAFA tournament will serve as a qualifier to next year’s U20 AFCON in Egypt where the top four finishers will secure places to the 2023 FIFA U20 World Cup in Indonesia.

“Everything is going well here in Eswatini and we had our first training session on Thursday with the intention of getting good results as our end goal,” he said.

“The most important thing is for us to qualify the team for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt next year. We want to expose the boys to that level of competition and we hope to go there [in Egypt], and that is the plan of every coach. It is our target, despite the challenges we faced back home [before the trip to Eswatini]. The team is a unified unit and we are looking forward to a good competition and we want to give it our best.”

The South Africans face Malawi in their opening match of the tournament in Eswatini on Saturday 8 October 2022 and Khumalo hopes his charges will start the event on a strong note.

He is happy with the way his players applied themselves during a training camp held at the South African Football Association (SAFA) National Technical Centre in the south of Johannesburg recently, even though he did not get all the players he wanted for the 10-day camp.

He believes the camp achieved the purpose of giving the team time to prepare for the COSAFA Qualifier Tournament in Eswatini. The COSAFA Under-20 tournament will be held in Eswatini from October 7-16.