By FOCUS REPORTER
NATIONAL Under-17 team, Amajimbos arrived safely in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on Wednesday, September 8 for their second leg of African Youth Championship qualifier.
Amajimbos take on Burkina Faso at the Ougadougou Stadium on Saturday, September 11 at 6pm in the match they have to win at all cost to stand a chance of making it in the finals of this continental showpiece.
The SA team goes to this match still on cloud nine with a 4-2 victory at home in Thembisa’s makhulong Stadium in the first leg match played a forthnight ago
The visitors are said to be trying hard to acclimatise to the hot weather conditions of Burkina Faso where the heat rises up to 40 degrees celsius at times. But Amajimbos are lucky in that when they arrived it was raining, and on Thursday, September 9 they had two training sessions under cloudy skies with temperatures hovering around 29 degrees Celsius.
‘We had some logistical challenges when we got here with the hotel booked for us not up to scratch and we had to change it. The training pitch was also not in the best of conditions but we are now sorted as we are using the ASFA Yenenga Training Centre, built by FIFA and is used by the Burkina Faso national teams. I think we are coping very well, and the boys looked stronger despite the challenges and the idea here is to get the three points that we need,” said the South African head of delegation, Elvis Shishana.
In the absence of head coach, Solly Luvhengo who is in Trinidad and Tobago with the national Under-17 women’s team for the FIFA World Cup, stand-in coach Mandla Mazibuko is hopeful the boys will not be put off by all the earlier mishaps the team encountered upon their arrival.
“They are adapting very well and you can see the focus is there because we always emphasize to them to focus on the job at hand, any negative thoughts will not help the team and should be abandoned. The Burkina are trying to play mind games but we want to turn it around and use that to make the boys stronger. So far they are responding very well and don’t look a bit disturbed. I was worried with the weather conditions because I know it can be very hot here, but we were pleasantly surprised when we found cloudy conditions and we hope it stays that way until Saturday,” said Mazibuko who is assisted by Safa technical director Serame “Meneer” Letsoaka.
“I am grateful to SAFA for bringing along Letsoaka to assist as he has loads of experience after qualifying for and leading the Under 20s in the FIFA Under 20 World Cup. So far we have been able to plan well as he has been giving valuable advice. It’s important to use all available resource we have at our disposal, be they human or otherwise for the good of the national teams.” said Mazibuko
He added that: “As for the approach on Saturday we have to continue from where we left off, but I have told my players to forget about the lead as putting it ahead could be suicidal. For us to come out with a positive result we need to dictate terms – for that to happen we must attack but at the same time be solid at the back. We know we can’t compete with them physically as they are bigger than us, then we need to do what we comfortable with – keeping possession and playing off the ball.”