Amajita line up top class World Cup preparation games

Amajita coach Thabo Senong during the SAFA Press Briefing at SAFA House, Conference Room on March 01, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Amajita coach Thabo Senong during the SAFA Press Briefing at SAFA House, Conference Room on March 01, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

The South African Under-20 national team are lining up top-class opposition to meet in friendly preparation internationals ahead of the Fifa U-20 World Cup‚ including Ukraine and Uruguay‚ Amajita coach Thabo Senong has revealed.

Senong said some of the matches will form part a final preparation camp in U-20 World Cup host country Poland‚ where the tournament takes place from May 23 to June 15.

“March will be dedicated to scouting and player-monitoring‚” Senong said in a press conference at Safa House in Nasrec on Friday‚ detailing how Amajita’s World Cup preparations will unfold.

“We need to do a few club visits‚ just to discuss – the players who are already in the setup‚ and maybe players who we missed in the previous camps. Some of the visits will be abroad‚ to monitor and identify a few players.

“We start our phase one preparation camp on April 1. The plan is to either camp in Spain or Poland.

“The final preparation camp will start on May 2‚ in Poland. We will play friendlies against countries such as Ukraine‚ who have confirmed that they want to play us on May 18.

“Our acting Safa CEO [Russell Paul] and technical director [Neil Tovey] are working hard to make final arrangements with Ecuador‚ the current [U-20] champions of South America.

“They are also working on Saudia Arabia‚ who have been doing well in Asia‚ and Uruguay‚ who are one of the best teams in South America‚ and possibly another European team.”

Uruguay finished third at the 2019 South American U-20 Championship that Uruguay won last month.

Saudi Arabia won the 2018 Asian U-19 Championship‚ beating South Korea 2-1 in the final in November.

Ukraine were semifinalist at the European U-19 Championships in July last year.

Senong believes such stern opposition will help prepare SA for a tough Group F at the World Cup‚ where they have been drawn with European champions Portugal‚ Asian runners-up South Korea and South American runners-up Argentina.

“We are drawn in a very good group. And I’m so excited because when you want to develop our football and our players it’s always important to play against the best nations in the world‚” Senong said.

SA have qualified for their fourth overall‚ and second successive‚ U-20 World Cup. In South Korea in 2017 Amajita lost 2-1 against Japan and 2-0 against Italy‚ then drew 0-0 against Uruguay.

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