Slim hope remains for erratic Amajita

Siphesihle Mkhize of SA battles for possession with Kangin Lee of Korea Republic in their Fifa U20 World Cup group match on Tuesday.
Siphesihle Mkhize of SA battles for possession with Kangin Lee of Korea Republic in their Fifa U20 World Cup group match on Tuesday.
Image: Aitor Alcalde / Getty Images

Amajita's chances of qualifying for the knockout phase of the ongoing Under-20 World Cup in Poland are hanging by a thin thread.

This is after their 1-0 loss to South Korea on Tuesday. The defeat at the hands of the Asians was Amajita's second as they began the campaign on a back foot, losing 5-2 to Argentina in the opener last Saturday.

The Thabo Senong-coached side remain bottom of Group F, wrapping up the pool campaign against Portugal tomorrow (8.30pm SA time).

Beating Portugal could put SA in a good position to finish third, which can see them qualify for the quarterfinals as one the best four third-placed nations.

However, all this depends on group leaders Argentina, who are on six points, winning against Korea. Korea and Portugal are level on three points, with the latter occupying the third spot because of better goal difference.

Amid their struggle to deliver the goods in Poland, Senong has given an impression that their main aim of participating in the World Cup was always to nurture players.

"Obviously now we have dropped points, we are bottom of the group but we are developing these players," Senong said.

The SA coach has cited a lack of discipline and physical strength as the major factors in their poor form, especially against Korea, where they dominated the first period but failed to score.

"We approached the first two games with the aim of winning, but we were up against very strong opponents.

"Korea were very physical and tactically disciplined.

"We had a very good first half. The only thing was that we did not convert our chances. I told the boys at halftime to concentrate and remain solid."

While he understands it will be an uphill battle against Portugal tomorrow, Senong has hinted at the change of approach and planning.

"We're looking forward to the last game in our group... We have to plan better. It is also important to work hard and approach the game professionally with the aim of taking three points. But it won't be easy."

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