The national Under-20 football coach, Thabo Senong, says a week’s training camp they’re having ahead of next month’s Cosafa Cup tournament in Zambia will help them build a strong team.
The bulk of players in the 25-man squad are new to the national team setup.
Only four were part of the team that represented the country at the Fifa World Cup in South Korea earlier in 2017.
Senong says competing in the annual regional tournament against the likes of continental powerhouses, Egypt and Zambia, will help improve the competitive edge of the boys and give them international experience.
Most of the players in the camp were not initially called to the squad with replacements having to be made for those who were not available.
Amongst the reasons for that is that many of the Under 20s are in the midst of final school exams.
The players have been in camp since Saturday and have been playing friendlies with junior teams of PSL clubs and will play another against Lesotho on Saturday in the Mountain kingdom.
Senong says they’ll use that match to test the readiness and mental strength of the players ahead of the tournament:
“We just want to test the mental and physical readiness of our players and also check the balance of the team. We’ve brought players who are very young this is an opportunity for them to showcase their talent.”
Amajita finished as runners-up in the previous Cosafa Cup tournament held in the North-West, where the host of this year’s tournament, Zambia, beat them in the final.
Senong says as much as they would like to win the tournament, the main goal is to give the players an opportunity to learn and develop:
“It’s always important that we allow them to develop inside the programme, make sure we guide them properly awhile also getting information about other teams on the continent.”
The bulk of the players who were part of the team that represented the country in South Korea have graduated to the Under-23 team.
Senong says it’s the start of a two-year cycle with the team they’re building to play in the 2019 Under 20 FIFA World Cup.
Most players in the squad are between the ages of 16 and 18 with midfielder Sibongiseni Hlengwa, a Kaizer Chiefs junior among them.
Hlengwa, who is from Kwazulu-Natal, is a student at the Vaal campus of the University of the North-West.
The youngster wants to impress and is looking forward to playing in the Cosafa tournament:
“I am looking forward to it cause now it’s another challenge and another stage for me where I can showcase my talent and also grow as a player.”
Amajita will leave for Zambia on the fourth of December and play their first match of the tournament against Mauritius on the seventh.
Egypt and Mozambique complete Group B, in which Amajita have been drawn.