young blood

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Amabinneplaas, the South African national development soccer side, has been entrusted with the mammoth task of representing the country in the Cosafa Cup.

Bafana Bafana won the tournament in Bloemfontein last year after defeating Zambia in the final, which was the first edition sponsored by Castle Lager.

The tournament, which will feature 14 countries in the region, will be played in Mpumalanga from July 17 to August 3.

"It is true that the development national team will play in that tournament," said Molefi Oliphant, South African Football Association president yesterday.

"It will prepare them for the African Nations Championships in Mpumalanga. We want to expose them to international soccer."

Amabinneplaas were scheduled to assemble in Johannesburg last night for a tour to Maseru, where they will play two matches against Lesotho.

The first friendly match will take place on Thursday and the second on Sunday before the Serame Letsoaka-guided team returns to South Africa.

Sipho Nkumane, Bafana Bafana manager, said all the 14-member countries of Cosafa have confirmed their participation in the tournament.

"In terms of the rules and regulations of the tournament, the Southern Africa countries occupying the top six rankings of Fifa in March get a bye.

"They are automatically in the quarterfinals. Those who were ranked seventh to 14th will participate in the preliminaries.

"The eight countries will be divided into two groups of four each, with the two teams finishing on top on the log joining the other six which got a bye."

Angola, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Botswana are already in the quarterfinals, with the rest of the countries going for the preliminaries.

The preliminaries are scheduled for July 17 to July 24, with the quarterfinals to final taking place on July 25 to August 3.

Barney Kujane, Amabinneplaas project director, said: "We are in the process of finalising the team but we promise South Africans that it will be a well-oiled side.

"We have decided not to go for the professional players because most of the clubs will be starting with their pre-season training.

"We have made all the arrangements for the trip to Lesotho and everybody is looking forward to it."

Letsoaka said: "We are excited to have been afforded the opportunity of playing in the Cosafa Cup.

"We appreciate the help from Safa."

Some of the young players in Amabinneplaas include Tlou Molekwane, Sibusiso Mxoyana, Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Thulani Serero, Mdu Mabaso, Mahomotsa Rooi, Mashiane Phadu, Jacob Mokhasi, Siya Mngoma, Warren Bishop and Marcelino Fransch.