Thabo Senong is hoping he can win the World Cup with the under 20's. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Thabo Senong is a rare breed blessed with all the right coaching ingredients. He remains humble, focused and always willing to empower himself despite the success that he’s brought to the landscape of South African football through Amajita and a stint with Bafana Bafana.

Senong introduced himself to the football masses when he was announced as the second assistant coach to the- coach Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba at Bafana.

But his name was more established when he was announced as the Under-20 national coach later that year.

His stint at Bafana had its ups and downs. Such a downfall was when he had a fall out with current coach Stuart Baxter, who allegedly kicked him out of his technical team because he wanted someone with more experience.

However, Baxter came out to deny those allegations, saying that, “Senong wanted to focus on his Amajita post and continue with his coaching clinics and self-empowerment”.

And Senong has continued to shower praises on Baxter even in torrid times.

Senong, has found passion and solace in the under-20s. He hit top gear with the team from the onset as he led them to 2015 Africa Youth Championships, where they unfortunately finished third in the group stage and subsequently couldn’t book their spot to the World Cup.

But that was the turning point his career needed in order to shape himself to the profound coach that he is today.

Fast forward two years, he qualified for the 2017 continental showpiece yet again and ensured that South Africa qualified for their first World Cup in eight years.

Come 2018, and things became bigger and better for Senong. On a personal front, he bagged his Diploma in Master Coaching from Johan Cruyff’s Institute in the Netherlands, and an Executive Sports Management programme certificate from Nelson Mandela Bay University.

On the field, he continued to distribute distinctions as he historically qualified for a successive Under-20 Afcon and bagged back-to-back Cosafa Cups.

In both Cosafa tournaments, Amajita walked away with the best player and top goal scorer awards. 2019 hasn’t turned out any different either, but instead they’ve hit another milestone.

They qualified for the World Cup on Poland in style, as they claimed bronze - becoming the second-best generation in the country’s history after the class of 1997, who had finished second.

And for his determination towards his current job, Senong has made it clear that in the next three months building up to the World Cup he’ll put his entire energy in preparing Amajita.

Meaning that, they’ll be no room to assist Bafana who’ll be playing in the Afcon qualifiers.

@MihlaliBaleka


Sunday Independent

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