Safa development claim to be put to the test

December 2, 2013 4:23 AM

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THE South African Football Association's claim of a sharper focus on the junior national teams gets its first real test when the country competes in the Cosafa Under-20 Youth Championships in Lesotho starting Tuesday.

They have certainly shown good intent by placing the vastly experienced Shakes Mashaba in charge of the side. He is a former Bafana Bafana coach and led the Under-23s to a win over Brazil at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

He faces the same problems as senior national team coach Gordon Igesund in picking his African Nations Championship squad in that many of his first-choice selections are unavailable to him due to PSL commitments.

But he has still managed to put together an exciting enough group that includes 17-year-old Orlando Pirates playmaker Nhlakanipho Ntuli, soon to be headed to FC Twente in the Netherlands.

Also heading to the Mountain Kingdom is 16-year-old midfielder Fagrie Lakay from National First Division side Santos, who is already in his second season of professional football and is tipped as a future superstar.

And then there is Stars of Africa Academy striker Pule Maraisane, who has been garnering interest from Brazilian side Fluminense.

They will face Zambia, winners of the last three tournaments between 2009 and 2011, an always-competitive Namibia side and minnows Seychelles.

They did get some decent practice in on Friday when they defeated a Kaizer Chiefs development side 2-0, but may feel they head to Lesotho a little under-cooked.

Amajita open their competition against Seychelles in Mafeteng on Wednesday (2pm kick-off), before meeting Zambia in Maseru on Saturday in a potential pool decider.

They end their pool campaign with a clash against Namibia in Maseru on December 10 (4pm).

Should they top their pool they will meet the winner of Group A, which comprises hosts Lesotho, East African guests Kenya, Comoros Islands and Mauritius, on December 12 in Maseru (3pm).


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