Amajita cast net wide

2015-01-18 15:00

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When Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba and Thabo Senong established the new generation of the SA Under-20 (Amajita) team less than two years ago, part of their mission was to mould players who could be exported to Europe.

The idea was to emulate west African nations that have players who are scattered all over Europe from an early age.

Part of the provisional Amajita squad for the upcoming African Youth Championship in Senegal boasts three overseas-based players (see boxes).

“Our wish is to see our youngsters get identified by European clubs. Firstly, the only way is to qualify the team for the continental championships where west African teams have dominated,” Senong told City Press in a recent interview.

“Secondly, qualifying for the World Cup will set an ideal platform for our players to be identified by European scouts. This will benefit Bafana in the long run as we’ll have a big pool of overseas-based players.”

The Bafana assistant coach recalled the success of the previous generation of South Africa’s young players who went on to establish themselves abroad.

“The plan was also to cast our net wide and call up our overseas-based players,” he added.

“Previously, Thulani Serero, Andile Jali, Kermit Erasmus and Kamohelo Mokotjo all played at the (2009) continental championships and the Under-20 World Cup [the same year]. They attracted the attention of overseas clubs.”

Serero plies his trade at Ajax Amsterdam in the Dutch Eredivisie while Jali plays for Belgium’s KV Oostende.

Erasmus, who is now at Orlando Pirates, had spells in Holland with Feyenoord Rotterdam and SBV Excelsior.

Mokotjo is also playing in the Eredivisie at FC Twente.

Since Senong and Mashaba were seconded to Bafana – as deputy and head coach, respectively – in July last year, Amajita is temporarily being prepared by David Notoane and Wendell Robinson for the Youth Championship from March 8 to March 22.

The two previously served in Mashaba’s technical team at the Under-23s in 2011.

Amajita are in Russia participating in the Commonwealth Cup in Saint Petersburg.

They were due to play Lithuania yesterday.

Their other group matches are against Tajikistan today and against Kazakhstan on Tuesday.

The 12-nation tournament will run until January 25.

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