Andrea Favilli, who scored Italy’s second goal, takes on Amajita captain Tercious Malepe (left) and Wiseman Meyiwa on Wednesday. Photo: Kim Hee-Chul, EPA

South Africa’s Amajita all but bowed out of the Fifa Under-20 World Cup on Wednesday after suffering their second defeat in their group against Italy.

Amajita will now have to fight for a win in their final Group D match against Uruguay if they are to stand a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages as one of the four best third-place finishers.

This 2-0 loss against Italy sees coach Thabo Senong’s team now being bottom of their group with no points, having suffered a 2-1 defeat against Japan in their first match.

Amajita were pitted in what could be referred to as a “group of death”, with both Japan and Uruguay having qualified for the tournament as continental champions, while Italy finished as runners-up to France in the Uefa Under-19 European Championship the previous year.

In this encounter, the towering Italians, who suffered a 1-0 defeat in their first match against Uruguay, moved quicker on the pitch compared to the Lilliputians of South Africa, who struggled to close them down in the first 15 minutes.

It was their quick transition play which proved very difficult for Amajita to deal with. And that’s because the Italians didn’t spend too much time on the ball moving forward. They played one-touch football, sometimes two, each time they transitioned from centre midfield into the attacking third.

Their coach Evani Alberico paced up and down in his dug-out with frustration, throwing his hands up in disbelief each time his side missed scoring chances.

Riccardo Orsolini celebrates after converting a penalty for Italy and beating Amajita goalkeeper Mondli Mpoto. Photo: Kim Hee-Chul, EPA

Mondli Mpoto had denied them twice when his defensive line had failed to protect him from their deadly shots.

In the 23rd minute, the Azzurri were awarded a penalty after Wiseman Meyiwa committed a foul inside the area

Riccardo Orsolini took full advantage of that opportunity and blasted it home, leaving Mpoto with no chance of tipping it way from the goalmouth, after he had dived in the right direction.

In the second period, the Italians also demonstrated that not only were they quick on their feet, but also showed that they had strong aerial presence.

And that’s how they scored their second goal. Andrea Favilli converted a superb header after a teammate played a long ball inside the 18-yard area. Mpoto was also too late in his reaction to make the required save.

Amajita tried to fight back in the remaining minutes of the match, but it was already too late. They were simply outclassed by a side who wanted it more.


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