JOHANNESBURG – Down but definitely not out. That is the feeling in the Amajita camp following their 5-2 defeat to Argentina in their opening match of the Under-20 World Cup.
With two matches still to play in the group stages, Thabo Senong’s team are confident they can recover from the loss to get enough points that will see them progress to the next round.They play South Korea today and complete their group phase with a clash against Portugal.
Midfielder Leo Thethani says they can win both matches.
“I believe that we’ll get the six points because of the way we’ve been working and doing the analysis,” Thethani said.
“I think we’ll give the two opponents - Korea and Portugal - a tough game because we are confident. We want to show to our nation that we are capable of doing anything and achieving anything that we want to.”
Amajita will begin their hunt for six points that will hopefully be enough to deliver them to the Promised Land, when they take on the Koreans at Tychy Stadium tonight.
In their opening encounter, Thethani brought a breath of fresh air when he came in a second half - winning a penalty for his team that was easily converted by Lyle Foster to ensure that there was a bit of respect to the scoreline.
“Looking back to the game that we played, I think we did very well because everyone was confident because we wanted to win the game,” Thethani said. “But unfortunately, we conceded a penalty and red card (to Keenan Phillips), and those killed us.
We kept on believing that we can still go on and that’s why when I came on, I wanted to do my best to show to the nation that we are not quitters, but winners. I think that contributed a lot to my performance when I came on.”
Following his absence from the junior national team due to a long-tern injury, Thethani is thrilled to be back in Amajita’s set-up. The Ajax Amsterdam forward missed the Cosafa Cup and this year’s Africa Youth Championship in Niger, which sealed the team’s qualification for the global showpiece.
“It feels great to be back in the national set-up after being away for some time,” Thethani said. “I am truly grateful to be representing my country again. I intend giving it my best for the nation.”@Mihlalibaleka