Amajita qualified for the Fifa Under-20 World Cup in Poland in May after finishing second in Group A at the Africa Youth Championships (AYC) in Niger on Friday.
This will be Amajita’s second successive continental showpiece, having featured in the 2017 edition in South Korea.
The South African junior national team needed a win on Friday to book their spot in the semi-finals of the AYC competition, and they did just that as they beat Burundi by 1-0 at Stade de Maradi in Niger.
On paper, Amajita had already won this match even before they kicked the ball, but it was a matter of the number of goals that they’d score against the underdogs of Group A.
The South Africans were mindless of the score-line, but more focused on producing a sterling performance – something that had surpassed them in their last two draws, where they were outplayed by Niger and Nigeria.
Amajita made an immediate impact as their front trio – Khanya Leshabela, Kobamelo Kodisang and Thabiso Monyane – threw everything at the Young Swallows’ defence.
Their bright start was rewarded as Monyane won them a penalty in the first 10 minutes of the game.
SuperSport United midfielder Luke le Roux stepped up and sent goalie Kukundo the wrong way.
SA coach Thabo Senong’s troops didn’t drop their guard as they went in search of the second, but were denied by Kukundo and the woodwork.
What made things work for Senong was the fact that everyone was well-positioned – and players such Nkosingiphile Ngcobo were played to their abilities of being ball-players in the engine room.
Not all was gloomy for the Burundians as they had chances to make the game all square leading to the interval, but they fluffed those opportunities and were denied by heroic goalkeeping from Khulekani Kubheka.
In the first stages of the second half, South Africa took the foot off the pedal, but the opposition yet again failed to make their opportunities count.
Amajita then rediscovered form, and came close to putting the game to bed later in the stanza, only for Kukundo to produce an acrobatic save that denied a bullet header from Fezile Gcaba.
They might have taken the long route, but Amajita will now sleep better knowing that they’ll join seven-time champions Nigeria, who topped the group, in the last four.@Mihlalibaleka