South Africa opened its 2018 Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) under-20 Youth Championship on a high by thumping a hapless Mauritius 5-0 in Zambia on Monday.

Amajita, who are the defending champions, also led 5-0 at the break. South Africa’s next match is against Eswatini on Saturday.

Amajita is using the COSAFA Cup as part of preparations for next year’s under-20 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament in Niger.

South Africa took the lead after one goal by Mauritius in the opening minutes of the match. Then it was 2-0 in the 12th minute after a Lyle Foster strike.

In just under 30 minutes, Foster scored his second goal of the match to make it 4-0. The Amajita coach, Thabo Senong, says this is an ideal start for South Africa.

“Well done to the boys, they did well and they stuck to the game plan. First games of the tournament are never easy, so it’s always important to create chances and not to concede goals maybe to reduce the number of mistakes. But of course you cannot undermine an opposition in this kind of tournament you can see Mauritius there’s a bit of improvement in their height, how they defend set-plays because they didn’t give us a single goal from a set-play,” says Senong.

Senong says that although the match against Eswatini will not be a walk in the park, their aim is to finish top of the group and qualify for the semi-finals of the tournament.

“Swaziland has prepared well, better than us and we are still trying to find ourselves, our rhythm. You saw our game in the second half, dropped a little bit it’s back to the drawing board, fix our mistakes and then prepare for Swaziland. It’s our objective to come out of our group but it’s one game at a time”.

Senong believes the standard of the tournament has improved a bit, more still needs to be done to boost the growth of African football particularly in the southern region.

“The standard has improved compared to last year. It shows that coaching at youth level is growing, maybe what we need to do we can start introducing champions league football at under-19 level with Zesco under-19 playing against Mamelodi Sundowns under 19,” says Senong.

With the ABSA Premiership in full swing, some of the eligible players were not available for this tournament.