After being out of action for almost a year, the South African U-17 soccer national team are hoping for a strong return in the Cosafa Cup. Failure to qualify for this year’s U-17 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Gabon two months ago meant Amajimbos will see less football action.
They also missed the chance to qualify for the U-17 Fifa World Cup to be hosted by India in October. To avoid that from happening again, Amajimbos coach Molefi Ntseki has started building a strong team that will represent the country in the next two years. The coach said they are not only looking to develop players who will shine in the U-17 team but players who will compete in the next Olympics.
“This is an exciting period for Amajimbos because we are embarking on building players who will only be known in the next six to seven years,” Ntseki said. “To a certain extent, this period is also an emotional one, because I look back to 2014 when we started building what will now become the next South African Olympic team and marvel at how Vision 2022 is coming together.” In 2015, Ntseki led South Africa to a second place finish in the U-17 Afcon and qualified for the World Cup.
Most of the players who formed the team then have now graduated to the U-20 national team and recently represented the country in the U-20 Fifa World Cup. “This year we have selected players born in the year 2002 and they are in their developmental phase. They are at a tender age of 15 and it is very important for us to build future stars.” Ntseki and his side are preparing for the Cosafa Cup taking place in Mauritius from Friday.
“We have chosen players in this age group as a strategy to mould them from young. We have identified a pool of players who will most likely represent Amajimbos from this Cosafa Cup to the 2019 Fifa U-17 World Cup,” Ntseki said.
“We have had two good training sessions and are grateful to all the academies for releasing the players we requested. We are still in the introduction phase, as we are still identifying players’ natural positions and trying to get them out of their shells.”In the last year’s Cosafa Cup, South Africa were beaten in the final by Namibia.