29 April 2023 – After months of preparation, the South African under-17 men’s national team begin their AFCON U17 journey against Morocco at the Stade Mohamed-Hamlaoui, in Algeria on Sunday (30 April 2023) night. (Kickoff is at 21:00 South African time).
Coach Duncan Crowie’s charges arrived in North Africa on Sunday, 23 April 2023 and have had a week of acclimatization and preparation before they get into action.
Crowie is satisfied with his side’s preparations and had earlier expressed he is happy that all 21 players in the squad are fully fit and with no injuries.
The South Africans will be making a fourth appearance at the tournament with their best record coming in 2015 when they finished as runners-up and qualified for the 2015 World Cup in Chile.
Addressing the media on Saturday afternoon (29 April 2023),Crowie said he understands why many are describing his group as the “Group of death”, but he added that his players are up to the task.
“We had our last training session on Friday night (28 April 2023) and the guys are mentally ready, we are prepared and know what to do on the field of play,” he said.
“We also know that Morocco did well at the World Cup and this is a psychological boost for them, but we also have a psychological boost of our own because our ladies team (Banyana Banyana) are the reigning African champions after defeating Morocco in the final.”
The SA coach weighed in on the recent unveiling of the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers
“When we were traveling from Algiers to Constantine (where the team is currently based), we passed the inspirational Nelson Mandela Stadium and everyone was taking pictures because that’s where we want to see ourselves,” he said.
Crowie was accompanied by SA U17 captain Benjamin Wallis,who believes that the members of the South African Technical team have done their part and it is now up to the players to execute the plan on the field of play.
“We have worked on the plan from the technical team and we know what is expected of us, so right now it is up to us as players to execute the plan well. At the end of the day, it is 11 vs 11, the grass is green and the ball is round,” said Wallis.