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Amajita need to express themselves to beat Japan‚ says coach Senong

By Marc Strydom | 2017-05-20 13:31:09.0

Amajita need to express themselves if they are to stand a chance of beating Japan in their opening game of the Fifa Under-20 World Cup on Sunday‚ said South Africa’s U-20 coach Thabo Senong in South Korea on Saturday.

Senong said he expects Japan to be characteristically organised and play to a high work-rate at the Suwon World Cup Stadium (kickoff: 10am SA time).

The Japanese – sure to have studied the DVDs of Amajita’s fourth-placed finish at the Caf U-20 Africa Cup of Nations in Zambia in March – will try to stifle the expression of skilful SA performers such as Sibongakonke Mbatha and Grant Margeman.

South Africa have a tough ask reaching the next round having been drawn with Asian champions Japan‚ South American champions Uruguay and European runners-up Italy.

Senong’s team might need a win from their opening game as their best chance of reaching the last-16.

“We are drawn in a very tough group‚ I must confess. Japan are the champions of Asia‚ Uruguay of South America‚ and Italy did well in the Euro qualifiers in Germany‚” Senong said in his pre-match press conference in Suwon.

“So it is standard for us to always make sure that we prepare‚ as much as we can‚ giving our players information about the opponents‚ possible formations and key players.

“We have identified that we are playing against a really good side in Japan. All their players are technically excellent.

“They keep the ball very well and have got good strikers. They have not conceded a lot of goals‚ so that shows that they are very well organised when they defend.

“So‚ ja‚ it won’t be easy. But we’ve been working very hard. We’ve been giving our boys the confidence they need‚ so that we can be able to perform and concentrate.

“Because first games of a tournament are very tough. We are dealing with young players‚ so there is an element of psychology and anxiety.

“So we’ve just encouraged them to play their normal football – go there and express your skills‚ with the purpose of getting a positive result at the end of the day.”

After Japan‚ South Africa meet Italy in Suwon on Wednesday then Uruguay at Incheon Football Stadium on Saturday.

All the U-20 World Cup games are being televised on SuperSport 4.


- TMG Digital