10 December 2022 – The South African national Under-17 side have qualified for the 2023 U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria and coach Duncan Crowie is happy to have successfully achieved an important target they set for themselves this year.

Crowie’s charges beat hosts Malawi 5-1 in the semifinals of the football competition at the Region 5 Games in Lilongwe on Friday, 11 December 2022 and in the process also secured their ticket to the continental tournament in Algeria in April next year. Tournament top scorer Siyabonga Mabena delivered a hattrick with Thato Sibiya and Dhakier Lee completing the rout. The irrepressible Mabena has now scored nine goals in the COSAFA qualifier event in Malawi.

“It was a fantastic performance and I certainly did not think it would be 5-1 in the end. I did not think it would be so tough either. The 12th man in the stands played an important role lifting them. Even when they were 0-2 down they still came at us, and they still had the belief they would get back into the game,” he said.

“But the boys stuck to their guns, did very well keeping possession after they had been put under pressure, and eventually the other goals had to come. So well done to the boys.”

The South Africans will face Zambia, who have also qualified for the 2023 U-17 Africa Cup of Nations, in the final in Lilongwe on Sunday after their polished display against Malawi.

The Zambians beat the South African national Under-17 side 0-1 during the group stages of the tournament in Lilongwe but Crowie said he will not change anything in the final on Sunday 11 December 2022.

“I do not think that we will change anything. The most important thing now is to get the players fit, and ensure they remain fit. The game plan will not change and motivating them will not be a problem because it is a final and everybody wants to be a champion.”