JOHANNESBURG - Thabo Senong, the national Under-20 coach, has expressed delight at his team's 3-0 win against Mozambique in the second leg of the 2019 Africa Youth Championships qualifiers.
Amajita’s win over the Mambinhas at Moruleng Stadium on Sunday ensured that they bagged a 4-1 aggregate victory after the first leg ended ina 1-1 stalemate last week.
As a result, they’ve now scheduled themselves a meeting with Malawi in the last round of the qualifiers in July, with a place in the Niger finals up for grabs.
“Well done to the entire team, especially the boys,’’ Senong said. “I think they worked hard to score the three important goals.
"We always knew that Mozambique would be a tough team to beat because of the number of friendly games they played (in preparations to the two-legged fixture).
"We needed to ensure that we converted our chances as early as possible and also work on other areas of the game.’’
Amajita had roughly 10 days to prepare for the Young Black Mambas in their two-legged matches - four days for the first leg and six in the second. That made them a bit vulnerable in the first leg, especially as it was away.
To compound matters, they were playing with a young squad that was made up of players from the Under-17s (Amajimbos). Senong siaid he was happy that his team produced the much needed results, in spite of such impediments.
“Our biggest enemy has always been time in our preparations,’’ he said. “With more time, this team can be better.
"Still, with the limited time that we had, we tried hard to ensure that we focus on very important aspects so that we can get the results. Football is about results, then you can plan after that.’’
Sunday’s win in Rustenburg was inspired by senior players such as captain Khulekani Kubheka who had to come to the team’s rescue by saving a spot-kick that could have well given the Mozambicans the life-line they needed to come back into game.
Out on the field, Soweto-giants’ duo Wiseman Meyiwa (Kaizer Chiefs) and Lyle Foster (Orlando Pirates) also got their names on the score-board.
“We worked on set-pieces throughout the week, including penalties,’’ Senong said. “All the three goalkeepers in the camp are always ready to help the team in set-pieces, so we were not surprised when our captain Khulekani Kubheka saved the penalty.
"He’s been saving a lot of penalties in training, and he looked confident. I’d also like to congratulate Foster and Meyiwa for getting the goals. At the moment we are a team that creates good scoring chances."
With the players now in their off-season and scheduled to be back with Amajita mid-way through the pre-season, Senong says they will each be given a special dietary program to follow as they prepare for the clash with Malawia in the final round.