Amajita suffers costly defeat

2011-04-23 16:18

The South African Under-20 soccer team’s 1-0 defeat by Egypt has implications that reach wider than just a loss.

Not only were Amajita knocked out of the African Youth Championship: they also lost out on a place in the Fifa Under-20 World Cup in ­Colombia later this year.

Even worse is that it means the R20 million to stage the tournament which Safa struggled to raise at the last minute has gone to waste, since it failed to yield the envisaged results.

The tournament was initially billed for Libya in March but was awarded to South Africa because of the political unrest in the North African state.

A fortnight ago Safa acting chief executive Pinky Lehoko told City Press: “Our hosting will afford our team the opportunity to participate.

In addition, if we qualify for the semifinals we automatically qualify for the Fifa Under-20 World Cup.”

In all fairness, however, this once again proves there are no short cuts to success, since ­Amajita qualified for the tournament through the back door.

This was after the Khabo ­Zondo-led team failed to qualify for the tournament, being knocked out by neighbours ­Lesotho in the qualifiers.

Amajita’s performance during this competition proved they did not deserve to be part of the event, and it should come as no ­surprise that they could not copy the act of the Class of 2009, which went to the World Cup in Egypt.

Amajita went into the game against Egypt looking for nothing but outright victory, but a moment of madness by goalkeeper Ronwen Williams during first-half injury time gifted ­Mohamed Sobh an easy goal.

In an attempt to clear a back pass, Williams tried to pass to his defender, but his mistimed pass fell into Sobh’s path and was easily slotted home.
Yet this was a game Amajita were not supposed to lose.

The South African junior side should have done better, especially in the second half.

Questions have to be asked about the team’s tactics on the day, as coach Maqsood Chenia started with a lone ­striker – Lucky Nguzana – when it was obvious that the Egyptians would pack the defence.

Amajita had only one attempt at the goals in the first half, when Nguzana’s header brought out the best in goalkeeper ­Mohamed Ahmed in the 44th minute.

It was only after the introduction of second striker Letsie ­Koapeng at the beginning of the second half that the team started to penetrate the opponents and created few chances they should have buried.

Captain Philani Khwela had an off day by his standards and this affected the whole team. He hit the upright late in the game, but that was as close as Amajita would come to scoring.

Before the tournament, Amajita’s group was termed the easiest, but two defeats to Mali and Egypt have left them with only one victory – over Lesotho. 

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