The South African Men’s U20 National Team (Amajita) has kicked off their tour of West Africa.
Amajita flew out of the country in the early hours of Sunday morning (20 July), and after an overnight stop in Bamako, Mali they moved to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso for the first of four matches of the tour.
South Africa and Burkina Faso face each other on Wednesday, 23 July.
Other friendly matches penciled in for the African Safari will be against Mali, Senegal and Ivory Coast – the latter has since been moved from Sunday, 3 August to the next day (Monday, 4 August).
The matches are to prepare Amajita for the crucial 2015 African Youth Championships (AYC) qualifier against Cameroon, scheduled for Yaounde on Saturday, 16 August.
“The sooner we switch on mentally for that match the better our chances are of defeating them because time flies and before we know it we will be kicking off. We are here to learn about playing away, about different cultures and also about how other countries approach football tournaments. But we are also here to learn about each other – so we have to seize the opportunity,” said Amajita assistant coach Thabo Senong, addressing the players upon arrival in Mali.
Senong went on to tell the squad that South Africa Men’s U20 head coach Shakes Mashaba was the last coach to qualify the Men’s Under 20 at the FIFA World Cup in Malaysia in 1997. He also led the same squad at the 2000 Olympics Games in Sidney, Australia.
“Their preparations were more or less the same as what we are having today. Some of the players back then were Matthew Booth, Wayne Roberts, David Kannemeyer, Ashley Makhanya, Benni McCarthy, Junaid Hartley and came up against the likes of Brazil and France in those tournaments. Today, those players are enjoying legendary status after the hard work they put in. They appreciated the opportunity and this generation of players can be like them. This is not a social tour – but one that can change our lives and take us to greater heights,” added Senong.
Meanwhile head coach Shakes Mashaba has travelled with only 20 players as he had to trim his squad of 22 – leaving out Sibusiso Ntombela (Mpumalanga Aces) and Thabiso Gwabavu (Kaizer Chiefs Development).
The squad is expected to return to Johannesburg on Tuesday, 5 July.
Source : South African Football Association