warm welcome for our heroes

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

As anticipated, soccer enthusiasts converged in numbers on OR Tambo International Airport to give Amajita a hero's welcome yesterday morning.

Amajita, including the technical staff, were greeted and hugged by the chanting crowd and the players enjoyed every moment.

The squad was returning from Rwanda where they used the African Youth Championship to qualify for the world event to be held in Egypt in September.

Amajita lost their third-place playoff 2-1 to Nigeria on Saturday, but won the fair-play award of the tournament.

Coach Serame Letsoaka attributed their success in Rwanda to unwavering support from Safa and the entire nation.

"The expectations were high in Rwanda, especially after [winning] the first two matches. We would have liked to bring back a medal but unfortunately we could not achieve that," said the amiable mentor.

"But I must say that my players performed with passion and pride. I don't have words to explain the excitement [in the squad]."

Skipper Ramahlwe Mphahlele said the absence of other experienced players inspired them to work even harder in Rwanda.

"We would have loved to win the championship, which was there for the taking but luck was not on our side," said the exciting Moroka Swallows defender.

He sees their achievement in Rwanda as special considering that some of the teams they competed against had players who play in Europe, while Amajita were comprised mostly of players with no international experience.

"But we managed to hang in there and compete well, so it is no surprise that we won the fair-play award," added Mphahlele.

Safa chief executive Raymond Hack thanked the coach and his technical team and the players "for a job well done under difficult circumstances" also referred to Letsoaka's failure to get all the players he selected for the showpiece as a setback.

This after some of Premiership team refused to release some of the selected players.