Mashaba outlines U-23 strategy

RE-HIRED National Under-23 coach Ephraim "Shakes" Mashaba has identified qualifying for the 2011 All Africa Games and 2012 London Olympics as his immediate challenges.

RE-HIRED National Under-23 coach Ephraim "Shakes" Mashaba has identified qualifying for the 2011 All Africa Games and 2012 London Olympics as his immediate challenges.

Mashaba, whose contract with the Football Association of Swaziland expires this month, said he would meet Safa top brass to discuss his strategic plan.

"I'm winding up everything with the Swaziland soccer authorities, but the first thing I will do in June will be to meet Safa chief executive Leslie Sedibe.

"It is unfortunate because I would have loved to return to Safa a few years ago to contribute to our preparations for the World Cup. The offer from Safa to work with the Olympic team came as a surprise. Working with the Under-23 squad is in itself a big job.

"It will be good for us to play a series of friendly matches and in mini-tournaments both on the continent and abroad against strong opponents. This will help us to have a competitive squad for the All Africa Games and 2012 London Olympics qualifiers.

"That is what helped us when we qualified for the Sydney Olympics with the Class of 2000. That team had adequate time to prepare and resources were made available to us."

Mashaba will build the new Under-23 side around youngsters like Thulani Serero, Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Andile Jali and Thandani Ntshumayelo. It will be good for us to come back with something in the two competitions, even if it is a bronze medal," said Mashaba, who has also done well with Amajita and Bafana Bafana.

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