Monday, 14 July 2014

BAFANA'S FUTURE IS HERE: flying off to Tanzania with the unbeaten Under 17 AmaJimbos

Shaping our future: AmaJimbos coach Molefi Ntseki
OVER the next five days, I hope to find out if South African football has a future. I’m pretty sure it has. And it’s brighter than we think.

I leave for Dar Es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania, tomorrow afternoon with Bafana Bafana’s Under 17 squad…. the AMAJIMBOS.

On Friday, at 3pm South African time, the lads face Tanzania in the away leg of their 2015 African Youth Championship qualifier at the 7,000-capacity Azam Stadium.

Having just watch a fascinating World Cup in Brazil devoid of our senior men’s squad – Gordon Igesund’s qualifying failure has been well documented around these parts – there is a general feeling of pessimism in South African football with the PSL and SAFA apparently unable to produce competitive national teams as they bang their heads together.

But given their preparation for the Tanzania qualifier, the Under 17s appear ready to defy this hopelessness and I hope to be able to bring to my readers a taste of our future stars as I work with Dominic Chimhavi, the SAFA Head of Communications, and team manager Barney Kujane,

The AmaJimbos’ preparation has been impeccable thus far. First came two friendlies against Botswana – won 2-0 and 4-0 – followed by last week’s trip to Lesotho, where the youngsters chalked up 2-0 and 1-0 wins. That’s four wins, nine goals scored, NONE conceded. Not bad for a country with no footballing future.

Under 17 coach Molefi Ntseki says: “The preparatory tour was a big success for us. I believe all the traveling has really helped us to prepare thoroughly for Tanzania.

“I am confident that going to Dar Es Salaam we will keep the same spirit that prevailed over the last two weeks, as well as the mental strength. We have become one big happy family. 

"The AmaJimbos are starting to show understanding of what is expected of them and also the demands of the game at international level.”

The future right here: The AmaJimbos squad
The only new addition to the 18-man squad is Liam Jordan of Bidvest Wits who was unable to join the squad in Botswana and Lesotho. Jordan is the son of the late Bafana striker Keryn and has impressed Wits no-nonsense boss Gavin Hunt since he returned to South Africa from New Zealand, where his father ended his goal-laden career. Liam was named Player of the Tournament at the Under 17 South African Championship in April, where Wits beat Chiefs in the final.

Sanele Tshabalala, the young Kaizer Chiefs stopper, was voted best goalkeeper at that tournament in Soweto while Vuyo Mkatshana from Wits scored against Lesotho last weekend. Captain Nelson Maluleka from SuperSport scored three in two games on the tour of Botswana.

The full AmaJimbos squad features SIX players from SuperSport United’s academy and just one from PSL champions Mamelodi Sundowns and Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs:

GOALKEEPERS: Mondli MPOTO (SuperSport Academy); Sanele TSHABALALA (Kaizer Chiefs Academy).

DEFENDERS: Simon NQOI (SuperSport Academy); Samuel NKOMO (Gauteng Province);  Notha Nature NGCOBO (Mamelodi Sundowns Academy); Keanu Gregory CUPIDO (Diambars Academy); Thendo MUKUMELA (Limpopo Province); Katlego MOHAMME (SuperSport Academy); Tshepiso MAHLANGU (SuperSport Academy).

MIDFIELDERS: Athenkosi DLALA (SuperSport Academy); Sibongakonke Ntuthuko MBATHA (School of Excellence); Nelson MALULEKE (SuperSport Academy); Liam JORDAN (Bidvest Wits); Felix NOGE (Harmony Academy); Vuyo Junior MANTJIE (Harmony Academy).

STRIKERS: Luvuyo Katlego MKATSHANA (Bidvest Wits Academy); Khanyiso MAYO (Eastern Cape Province); Edwin SEKHWAMA (School of Excellence).

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