Amajita will have to pull out all the stops in their next two matches following their humiliation by Argentina in their opening fixture in the Fifa Under-20 World Cup in Poland.
South Africa will face Korea on Tuesday and then go up against Portugal on Friday. If the youngsters don’t win those two matches, they could be heading home as early as next weekend. Portugal beat South Korea 1-0 in an early kick-off on Saturday, while Amajit felt the wrath of the video assistant referee (VAR) system after a reviewed penalty decision and a red card.
South Africa will feel that Slovakian referee Ivan Kružliak was harsh as he took a while to decide that Givemore Khupe had kicked his opponent before he made contact with the ball when he eventually pointed to the spot in the 63rd minute.
Amajita had done well to recover from an early setback to go into the half-time break level on terms, but things fell apart after the hour mark.
The scorer of their equaliser just before the break, defender Keenan Phillips, was also sent off after a VAR review for lashing out at his opponent a few minutes after Argentina had regained their lead from a spot kick.
With a man down, it was inevitable that Amajita would struggle against a tactically superior Argentina side, who were long dominating the game before the big collapse for coach Thabo Senong’s side in the second half.
It was not long before the former champions added to Amajita’s woes with two more goals in a space of seven minutes in the closing quarter.
Striker Lyle Foster scored from the penalty spot with five minutes to go, but the game was long over at Tychy Stadium on the night South Africa also lost goalkeeper Walter Kubheka to injury. Reserve Glen Baadjies took his place.
Despite pulling off an impressive save a few minutes after he was introduced, Baadjies still got beaten by a late strike as Argentina completed the rout in injury time for the tournament’s biggest score in the opening round.
The defeat for Amajita was disappointing as Africa’s other representatives – Nigeria, Mali and Senegal – began their campaigns on a positive note. Senegal led the way for Africa on Thursday with a 3-0 win over Tahiti, while Nigeria (4-0 victory over Qatar on Friday) and Mali (1-1 against Panama yesterday) also did not disappoint in their respective opening first-round fixtures. – City Press correspondent