Amajimbos going for gold in continental final

2015-03-01 15:00

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The SA Under-17 national team – Amajimbos – will “write their own history” when they face Mali in the CAF Under-17 African Youth Championship final at the Stade Général Seyni Kountche in Niamey, Niger, today.

These are the words of coach Molefi Ntseki. He has already made history by leading the team to qualification for the 2015 Fifa Under-17 World Cup that will be held in Chile from October 17 to November 8.

“This is actually the players’ final,” he said.

“The game is for them to write their own history as the first group of players to win South Africa a title at this level,” enthused Ntseki.

South Africa’s previous best showing at the continental tournament was a fourth place in 2005.

Amajimbos emerged from the group stages with creditable 2-2 draws against Cote d’Ivoire and Mali before Nelson Maluleke’s brace in a 3-1 win over Cameroon in the final group match sealed their place in the World Cup.

They beat reigning World Under-17 champions Nigeria 1-0 in the semifinal on Thursday to reach today’s humdinger.

Safa president Danny Jordaan, who could not travel to Niger for today’s final due to a bout of flu, called the team yesterday to urge them on to victory.

Six SuperSport United players have been pivotal to the team’s success.

They are goalkeeper Mondli Mpoto, right back Simon Nqoi, central defenders Katlego Mohamme and Athenkosi Dlala, midfielder Maluleke and striker Khanyisa Mayo.

SuperSport United academy technical director Kwanele Kopo is one of Ntseki’s assistants at the tournament.

United’s players have scored five of Amajimbos’ eight goals at the tournament.

Dlala and skipper Maluleke have also won man of the match awards.

.?SA Under-20 (Amajita) coach Thabo Senong says his technical team is very knowledgeable about their group opponents at the Under-20 CAF African Youth Championship that will get under way in Senegal next Sunday.

Amajita are in Group B with Ghana, Mali and Zambia.

Group A consists of hosts Senegal, Congo-Brazzaville and Cote d’Ivoire.

“Mali and Ghana always finish in the top four,” Senong told City Press before the team’s departure for Senegal

this week.

“What we also know about Mali is that most of their players are based in Belgium and France.

“We are busy analysing a DVD of Ghana’s last match against Gabon,” he said.

Amajita left without the SuperSport United trio of goalkeeper Dumisani Msibi, defender Kabelo Seriba and midfielder Morne Nel.

United coach Gordon Igesund told City Press this week the club needed Msibi (19) and Nel (18) for their league game against AmaZulu at Lucas Moripe Stadium today, but that they would eventually be released for national duty.

Bloemfontein Celtic striker Dumisani Zuma is also expected to join Amajita later as his club need him for their Absa Premiership games against Platinum Stars (today) and Bidvest Wits (on Friday).

Despite these challenges, Senong said Amajita’s primary goal was to reach the semifinals as a place in the last four would automatically earn South Africa a berth at the Fifa Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand in July.

Amajita are on a high after beating Finland 2-1 to lift the Commonwealth Cup in Russia last month.

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