Head coach of the Burger King-sponsored Amajita, Thabo Senong, is over the moon after leading the national juniors to their second FIFA Under-20 World Cup qualification in a row.
The South African U20 Men’s National Team booked their spot at the 2019 FIFA Under-20 Men’s World Cup after beating Burundi 1-0 in the CAF Africa Under-20 Men’s Cup of Nations tournament currently underway in Niger.
The match was played on Friday, 8 February 2019 at Stade de Maradi.
The World Cup will take place in Poland from 23 May — 15 June this year.
“I am really proud of these boys,” Senong said. “They really worked hard as a team throughout our group fixtures. We had two tactical approaches which I believe we applied really very well if you were to observe how we played in our first two group matches (Niger and Nigeria), and how we approached our last group match against Burundi.
“We knew what we had to do if we were to achieve something in this tournament. We are now looking forward to our upcoming knockout stage fixture against Senegal. Also, i would like to thank everyone for their support in helping this team realise its dream – SAFA, Burger King, technical and support staff, the fans back home, but most importantly the players who came to the party when needed. They deserve the praise for executing the plan to perfection.”
The victory over Burundi set up a semi-final meeting against Group B Winners, Senegal. Amajita finished second in Group A with five points, just two adrift of Group A winners Nigeria.
The semi-final clash will take place on Wednesday, 13 February at the Seyni Kouche Stadium in Niamey, Niger.
Senong says that his side’s ambition is to now work harder than they have so far, so they can reach the final stage of this biennial continental showpiece
“We will do everything in our power to ensure that we achieve that goal because we really want to play in the final, but we are also well aware that the Senegal match is not going to be an easy one,” Senong said. “We will have a look at how they play and come up with a proper plan to approach that game. We will fight to possibly go back home with the gold medal.
“All of this can be achieved if we continue applying ourselves like we have from the beginning of this tournament. I truly believe that it can be done. I think the players will relax a bit now and play their good game because the first mission, qualifying for the World Cup, has been accomplished. Now we are gunning for gold.”
Senong added that he was also pleased they were able to blood in new players into the Amajita squad.
“Players like Keenan Phillips, Fezile Gcaba and Khanya Leshabela got an opportunity to play in this tournament,” Senong added.
“This pleases me and the technical team greatly because Amajita is all about giving players an opportunity to grow as they start preparing for life in the senior ranks, while for some it is about growing to be professional players.”