JOHANNESBURG – Having achieved their primary target of qualifying for the Under-20 World Cup, Amajita midfielder Luke le Roux says they are now plotting to win the U20 Africa Cup of Nations in Niger.
The South Africans qualified for their second successive World Cup on Friday after beating Burundi 1-0 in their last match of the group stage at Stade de Maradi. This enabled them to finish second on Group A, with five points and two adrift of log leaders Nigeria.
The next assignment for Amajita will be in the last four against Group B table-toppers Senegal, who booked their ticket to the global showpiece in Poland with a game to spare.
Does this have Le Roux worried? Yes, it does. But he believes that they have a chance to make it to the final.
“We know what we are up against, it’s going to be a very hard challenge,” Le Roux said.
“But the coaches have been coaching us from South Africa - since the camps we had in Nelspruit and Johannesburg. We knew what we were going to get to in this tournament, and getting to the semi-final was going to be tougher. But we used the days we had to train harder and we’ll see what we get against Senegal.”
Amajita about to have their training session in Niamey, Niger ahead of their Wednesday's #TOTALAFCONU20 semi-final clash against Senegal at the Seyni Kouche Stadium. Kick-off is at 20h30 (SA time). pic.twitter.com/sGqdgIdP9h— SAFA.net (@SAFA_net) February 11, 2019
Le Roux, who scored Amajita’s solitary goal against the Young Swallows with a penalty, admitted he will forever embrace the fact that he propelled South Africa to a global tournament.
Furthermore, what made the spot-kick more meaningful for the 18-year-old is that it was something he barely practices at his club SuperSport United.
“There is always pressure in football, but I knew if we get an early lead we’ll do our very best to defend,” he said.
“To be honest, it’s (penalties) not really something that we practise. It was just the heat of the moment. Not to brag or anything, but the feeling is inexplicable considering that I scored (the winning goal) - I felt happier.
When the final whistle rang the feeling was like (special) because we were going to the World Cup - my biggest tournament of my career so far.”
HARD AT WORK: Amajita putting in the work in training ahead of their tomorrow's #TOTALAFCONU20 semi-final clash against Senegal. Kick-off is at 20h30 at the Seyni Kouche Stadium. pic.twitter.com/i7nSB52BYk— SAFA.net (@SAFA_net) February 12, 2019
It’s been 18 months of bliss for the South African national junior football team. They’ve qualified for back-to-back World Cups, bagged two back-to-back Cosafa Cups - while their last defeat was against Italy in their last group stage match of the 2017 global showpiece tournament in South Korea.
Players such as Teboho Mokoena, Motjeka Madisha and Phakamani Mahlambi who were part of the last U20 Afcon tournament are now integral members of Bafana Bafana.
Amajita will clash with the Young Lions of Teranga tomorrow night at Stade General Seyni Kountche.@Mihalibaleka