After all the hype and all the promises, Amajita finished at the bottom of Group D at the Fifa Under-20 World Cup after a goalless draw against Uruguay.
South African football’s Achilles heel – our failure to score and our inability to keep possession – was the team’s undoing. Amajita joined Guinea as the second African team to bow out.
Coach Thabo Senong decried the country’s lack of junior leagues: “Other countries have these leagues, but we only start developing players from the age of 13.”
He praised the SA Football Association (Safa), however, for the work done in supporting Under-17, Under-20 and Under-23 teams at provincial tournaments.
While some have questioned Senong’s credentials and fitness to lead Amajita at an international level, he believes he has paid his dues and was not thrown in the deep end.
Starting as a junior coach at Orlando Pirates, he led their development club Yebo Yes, which produced players such as Brighton Mhlongo, Michael Morton and William Twala
From there, he moved on to head Patrick Viera’s South Africa-based Diambars Institute with Lebo Mothiba, who now plays successfully in France.
He then went to lead the Mamelodi Sundowns Academy in 2012. It was from there that Safa chose him to first be Shakes Mashaba’s assistant at Bafana Bafana and then take on the dual role of Under-20 national coach and as Owen Da Gama’s Under-23 assistant in 2015.
Aside from continental tournaments and taking Sundowns to the Norway Cup, he went to the Olympic Games in Brazil last year .
Senong holds a Safa Level-3 coaching certificate, a Caf A Coaching Licence and a Fifa Youth Coaching Licence.
Zambia played like real African champions, finishing on top of Group C – thus becoming the continent’s first side to qualify for the second round.
Zambia made a dream start with a 2-1 victory over two-time global winners Portugal in their opening match, thanks to goals from Edward Chilufya and Fashion Sakala.
They sealed their second-round qualification when they came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Iran 4-2 in their second match for an unassailable six-point lead in the group.
Despite losing 1-0 to Costa Rica yesterday, they still finished on top of the group, with Portugal coming second.
Senegal was still on the verge with three points after a win and a loss that left them a single point behind Group F leaders, the USA, before the final group matches today.
Senegal beat Saudi Arabia 2-0 thanks to early goals from Ibrahima Niane Ousseynou and Cavin Diagne in their first game, before going 1-0 down to the USA. They resume their campaign against Ecuador today.
As was widely expected, Guinea – who ended third at the African Under-20 Championships in Zambia – finished last in Group A. Losing 3-0 to South Korea, they drew 1-all with England for a first point; but were thumped 5-0 by Argentina.
Their single point sees them improve on their 1979 maiden appearance, when they lost all their group stage matches.