Cape Town - South African Under-20 coach, Thabo Senong, said having selected his 21-man squad for the World Cup, he is not worried about the availability of players and he feels the matter is out of his hands at this stage.
“After selecting 21, there are no worries. Actually, I’m now a happy coach. There was a big concern trimming the team from thirty (players). It was very difficult, I’m happy that we have selected 21 and it’s out of our hands now. I strongly believe SAFA will work hard to communicate and negotiate with clubs. This is not my team; this is not a SAFA team but a South African team,” said Senong.
He was speaking to the media after the announcement of the Under-20 squad at Maponya Mall, Soweto. The 21 men will represent South Africa in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup to be staged in South Korea in two-weeks’ time.
Senong had just returned from Europe with the team where they played three practice matches in preparation for the World Cup.
“The preparations have been very good. We had a good training camp in Europe. The objective of the camp was to build team spirit, mental toughness and just physical base of the team. The team is looking sharp now, mentally and physically. I have no doubt that we will compete,” said Senong.
He said his biggest worry is the mental readiness of his youngsters because young players tend to be inconsistent.
“Youngsters are inconsistent with their performance. They are not the same every match and that is a characteristic of youth footballers. So it’s important to make sure that they believe in themselves. We don’t want them to panic, but we also don’t want them to be over excited. We don’t want them to undermine their opponents. As a technical team we are working on their mental aspect. The players are talented, the skills there and the fitness, game model and tactical plan are there,” he said.
The team will leave for their final preparations on May 10 and Senong said they are planning to play at least three friendly matches before their first game against Japan at the World Cup on May 21. Their second game is on May 24 against Italy before they finish their round robin matches with Uruguay on May 27.
Senong said they will use their minors tag as they are in one of the toughest groups.
“We are seen as dark horses and that puts us in a very good frame of mind. It makes us even want to work harder and prepare better,” said Senong.
SA Under-20 WORLD CUP SQUAD:
1. Sanele Tshabalala - Bidvest Wits FC (SA)
3. Mondli Mpoto - SuperSport United FC (SA)
4. Khulekani Kubheka - Mamelodi Sundowns FC (SA)
4. Malebogo Modise - Mamelodi Sundowns FC (SA)
5. Thendo Mukumela - Mamelodi Sundowns FC (SA)
6. Tercious Malepe - Orlando Pirates FC (SA)
7. Shane Saralina - Ajax Cape Town FC (SA)
8. Sandile Mthethwa - Orlando Pirates FC (SA)
9. Reeve Frosler - Bidvest Wits FC (SA)
10. Sipho Mbule - Supersport United FC (SA)
11. Wiseman Meyiwa - Kaizer Chiefs FC (SA)
12. Sibongakonke Mbatha - Bidvest Wits FC (SA)
13. Kobamelo Kodisang - Platinum Stars FC (SA)
14. Luther Singh - Sporting Braga (Portugal)
15. Grant Margeman - Ajax Cape Town FC (SA)
16. Thabo Cele - Benfica FC (Portugal)
17. Teboho Mokoena - SuperSport United FC (SA)
18. Masilakhe Phohlongo - Ajax Cape Town FC (SA)
19. Phakamani Mahlambi - Bidvest Wits FC (SA)
20. Liam Jordan - Sporting Lisbon FC (Portugal)
21. Keletso Makgalwa - Mamelodi Sundowns FC (SA)