JOHANNESBURG – Having been groomed from Amajita structures as well, Teboho Mokoena has challenged the current crop of players to dare to dream.
It’s been 18 months of treasure for Mokoena. He’s gone from representing Amajita in the Africa Youth Championships, where they finished fourth and qualified for the World Cup in 2017, to scoring on his third appearance for Bafana Bafana in the Afcon qualifiers against Seychelles last year.
He’s been a consistent figure for SuperSport United this season.
“Things have been going fast for me, I wasn’t expecting my career to be where it is,” Mokoena admitted. “But I think that the hard work that I’ve been putting in training is really paying off now - so it happened at the right time and I am happy that it’s happening.”
Taking a leaf from the book of how he and fellow Amajita squad members have risen, Mokoena believes that the current players can develop through international exposure.
“International tournaments are about the growth of players and because we had opportunities to play for our clubs afterwards that opened doors for us,” he said.
“These kinds of tournaments also give you a chance to see how far can you go as you can test your strengths and weaknesses.”
TheAmajita squad at the ongoing CAF under-20 Afcon in Niger has an opportunity to leapfrog Mokoena’s class in the junior national team ranks.
However, they’ll need to beat Senegal in the last four of the tournament to make the final - something that has only been achieved by the Class of 1997. It won’t be easy for the South Africans considering that the Young Lions of Teranga recently claimed the West African Football Union under-20 Nations Cup in December, and they recently qualified for the World Cup after two games from group B - which also had Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso - with a game to spare.
However, the Matsatsantsa anchor has tipped the country to match Senegal’s standards.
“They must do their best and make the country proud,” Mokoena said. “We are behind them, and they mustn’t look back. And most importantly they must play as a team because if the team wants to do it then it’s possible (for them to go all the way).”
Mokoena believes that his friend and teammate Luke le Roux will step up for Amajita. Le Roux has already enjoyed success in Niger, scoring a penalty, the solitary strike of the match against Burundi, which ensured they qualified for the World Cup.
“My favourite player is Luke le Roux. I am happy for him, and he must keep working. He has a bright future, and he’ll be a great talent.”
Amajita will lock horns with Senegal tonight at Stade General Seyni General Kountche at 8.30pm.@Mihlalibaleka