South Africa U20 coach National Thabo Senong feels the experience he gained as a Bafana Bafana assistant during Africa Cup of Nations finals in January will help him defeat Ghana and their other other group opponents come at the African Youth Championship (AYC) in Senegal this month.
The under-20 team, Amajita, are in the west African country ahead of Sunday’s AYC kickoff and Senong says there are some lessons he learnt from Bafana’s campaign in Equatorial Guinea, where the senior team was sent packing after two defeats and a draw in group matches.
Amajita are in Group B with Ghana, Mali and Zambia. They open their campaign with a clash against three-time AYC champions Ghana on Monday.
“The Afcon experience was good and special for me. The standard of football was very high. Teams were very organised tactically,” Senong said.
“Teams were strong in dead- ball situations and that is what we are working on at the moment to make sure we do not concede a lot of goals from set-pieces.
“Also, we need to try and score goals when teams are out of balance. Mental strength will also be important, but that skill is developed through a certain period. It takes some time to develop.”
The under-20s last participated in this competition in 2011 as hosts and had a nightmare campaign under coach Maqsood Chenia, as they finished third in Group A with one win and two defeats. Two years before that, however, Amajita claimed a fourth-place finish to qualify for the World Cup under coach Serame Letsoaka.
There is a lot expected of the current team after they won the 2013 Cosafa Cup and the Commonwealth Cup in Russia in January. All eyes will be on Senong to secure World Cup qualification after their younger brothers, Amajimbos, qualified for the Fifa Under-17 World Cup to be played in Chile in October.
Senong can rely on players like Dumisani Msibi, Ayabulela Magqwaka and Siyanda Ngubo.
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