The South African Under-20 soccer national team, that was crowned Cosafa champions in Maseru on Saturday, is on an M Road to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. This according to Safa president Danny Jordaan at a press conference to welcome the team this morning. “As I told the team in Maseru, they are on the M road that started in the Lesotho capital and should culminate in Moscow in with the 2018 Fifa World Cup,” said Jordaan. He said the trophy the team won by beating Keya 2-0 in the final, was the beginning of a road that should lead to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and culminate with the World Cup in Moscow in 2018. Jordaan said the team needed to be focused now and coach Shakes Mashaba, who said he had never worked with “such a talented bunch of players before”, must come up with a roadmap that will sustain the team. Mashaba, the most successful national coach by far, having taken the Under-20’s to the African Championships in Morocco in 1997 and the Under-20 World Cup in Malaysia, said he knew from the onset this team would win the Cosafa Under-20 title. “I told the assistant coach and the members of the technical team that I have never worked with such a talented bunch of players,” he said. “I must thank the technical team and the HOD (Abel Rakoma, a Safa NEC member) for all the support during the tournament. Mashaba said it was tough handling the situation after the news of the passing away of former president Nelson Mandela. “We brought the players together and had our prayers. I must also thank the people of Lesotho for their support, they even organised a memorial service for us,” said an emotional Mashaba. He said he hoped the passing on of Madiba was not only an end of an era, but a beginning to an era “that will see South African national teams win more trophies”. Mashaba said he insisted that it was imperative for the players to win the title, first for the new Safa leadership that was elected into office in September, as well as to soothe the nation following Madiba’s passing. Jordaan said the next immediate challenge, following this success, was the Under-20 women’s national team who face Tanzania in a second-leg World Cup qualifier at Dobsonville stadium on Saturday. They lead 4-1 from the first leg. “Our women team needs to qualify for the World Cup that will be held in Canada next year,” said Jordaan. “Participating in next year’s final will be a good foundation as we are hosting the tournament in 2016.” Mashaba is one of the 73 South African coaches who received their Level A coaching licenses last month.