JOHANNESBURG – After South Africa’s Under-20 national team held Mozambique 1-1 in the first leg of the Africa Youth Championship qualifiers at Campo de Ferroviaro da Beira on Saturday, coach Thabo Senong is optimistic of a good result when the two sides meet in the return leg on Sunday.
Amajita will play hosts to the Young Black Mambas in Nelspruit, which they left for yesterday to begin their preparations.
“I think we have a good chance in the second round,” Senong said. “We are slowly gelling as a team and I have no doubt that we will get a positive result on Sunday.
“The away goal that we scored will work to our advantage. In order for us to get a good result, we really need to give our all.”
On the importance of the away goal, Senong said: “It’s not easy to score away, and the goal puts us in a good chance. We just have to work hard in scoring another goal at home, and I think we can be able to control the game without any pressure.”
Compared to their first preparations for the Mozambicans, Amajita will now hold a six-day training session, and that should have a big impact in helping them to gel as a team.
Senong's squad is mostly made up of 17-year-olds who were part of the national Under-17 set-up.
The Soweto-born coach said Sunday’s fixture will see his players play more as a team than a set of individuals.
“We have six days to prepare. Hopefully, we can use that to make our team better,” Senong said.
“The players have now realised the demands of international football, especially qualifiers. We were a little bit behind in terms of strengths and gelling but I think now we understand each other better. We can now identify the best tactical approach in this encounter.”
In their last qualifiers, the Mozambicans hammered the Seychelles, thanks to a six-goal thriller, so for Amajita to hold them at home was a good result coming into Sunday’s fixture. Senong, however, is not taking any chances.
“We still have to continue working hard,” he said. “We know that Mozambique is coming here just to spoil the party; hence, we have to concentrate for 90-minutes.
“It is going to be one of those matches (with high intensity), and it will demand us to give a lot.”