The South African u17 Men’s National Team, Amajimbos, will hit the ground running when they get to Goa, India to partake in the inaugural BRICS u17 Football Cup.
Amajimbos are expected to arrive in the Indian city on Thursday night (6 October 2016) following a delayed departure.
The South Africans play their first match against the hosts on Friday, 7 October at Bambolin Grounds.
Kickoff is at 16h00 local time (12h30 SA Time).
Amajimbos have been in camp since Thursday, 29 September and have had two practices matches against Pimville Young Stars and the Supersport Academy – losing 2-1 and 3-1 respectively.
“This was a very welcome exercise on different fronts. First we had to see how far they were in terms of fitness, as well as technical and tactical readiness. Based on our findings from that match, we worked out a programme because had been busy with exams. Then we also played against Supersport United to give us an idea of what we needed to work on,” said Amajimbos head coach Molefi Ntseki.
“The results were not that important to us because we were on a fact-finding mission. The loss to Pimville Youngsters was a wake-up call for our players as we were playing against bigger and older boys. When you look at the practice matches and want to emphasise on the results, then you end up not having a very positive mind going into a tournament – the emphasis was more on tactical mistakes, which we had to rectify.”
Ntseki is not too bothered by the late arrival in India.
“To be honest we would have loved to be there as early as possible to also acclimatize, but due to matters beyond our control we were not able to. We cannot cry over spilt milk but have to soldier on. From the delay, we were able to fit in more training sessions so we departed South Africa ready to play, having completed our preparations,” added Ntseki.
He has emphasised the importance of getting off to a good start.
“It is very important to win your first match as it sets the tone for the rest of the tournament. If you do well in your first match, then you have an opportunity to go all the way to the final,” said Ntseki.
The u17 mentor has had to make changes to the initial team after some players suffered injuries – Thapelo Gaogatwe, Thabiso Monyane and Sphamandla Ntuli, while Linamandla Mcilizeli and Bonga Dladla have had to be withdrawn due to passport problems. Dladla was a late withdrawal, leaving Amajimbos with 21 players.
Kabelo Makola (Bophelo High School), Thabo Mokoena (Kaizer Chiefs) as well as Sthembiso Kurata and Mpho Mahlangu (both from Supersport United) have been called up as replacements.
Meanwhile India lost their opening match 1-0 to a ten-man Russia on Wednesday, 5 October at Bambolin Grounds.
Russia scored through Lopatin Daniil in the 4th minute.
Brazil were comfortable 2-0 winners over China in the earlier match.
* The BRICS u17 Football Cup features the five BRICS countries – economic block formed by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa
* It will be played annually
* Each edition will be hosted by one of the BRICS nations
* It is also seen as a dress rehearsal for the 2017 FIFA u17 World Cup which will be hosted by India from September – October 2017