Senong gets Amajita ready

Point to prove:  Thabo Senong says the underdog tag suits his Amajita team. (Gallo Images)
Point to prove: Thabo Senong says the underdog tag suits his Amajita team. (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Mental strength, the right attitude and composure will be key to the national team’s success at the Fifa Under-20 World Cup in South Korea.

As Amajita prepare to jet out of the country on Wednesday, coach Thabo Senong has identified a number of areas his players need to work on ahead of their opening game against Japan on May 21.

“The players are fit and talented, and the game model is there, but you never know with youngsters. They need to be consistent in every game and we must instil self-belief. We are working on their mental strength to ensure they are in the right performance zone when we start,” said Senong.

“Sometimes players can surprise you when they are excited and we need to guide them to minimise mistakes.

“We don’t want them to panic, get over-excited or even undermine their opponents. But we are confident they will do well.”

Prepare for tournament

He said their recent trip to Europe, where they played friendly games in Germany and Holland, achieved the objective of identifying areas they still need to work on.

There are still question marks over the availability of Bidvest Wits duo Phakamani Mahlambi and Reeve Frosler.

The two are an integral part of Gavin Hunt’s quest for the league title and Senong is not sure if they will travel with the rest of the team on Wednesday because Wits will be playing Free State Stars at Goble Park.

The Wits players, together with SuperSport United’s Teboho Mokoena and Grant Margeman of Ajax Cape Town, could not travel with Amajita to the Netherlands to prepare for the tournament. Their clubs argued that they needed them for their Absa Premiership commitments.

Senong said it was an administrative issue and that he was not aware if a deal had been struck with Wits or not.

Earlier this year, the SA Football Association (Safa) and Wits agreed to let Mahlambi join the team late at the CAF Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations in Zambia, but he had to return before the knockout stages.

“This matter is in the hands of the administrators. My job was to select the team and I have left everything to Safa to deal with,” Senong said.

Time zone

Safa chief executive Dennis Mumble said the selected players would leave together.

Wits chief executive José Ferreira failed to respond to a message left on his cellphone.

Senong said it was important for the players to travel together to improve team spirit and cohesion.

“It is important to go there early and acclimatise to the conditions, the food and the time zone.”

Portugal-based striker Luther Singh said he was excited to be representing his country.

Singh finished as the top scorer in Zambia after scoring four goals and bagging himself two assists.

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