Ethiopia clash excites Shakes

The South African Men’s U20 National Team, Amajita, are in camp ahead of their crucial African Youth Championships qualifier against Ethiopia on Sunday at the National Stadium in Addis Ababa.

This second-round first-leg clash will kick off at 4pm local time in Ethiopia (3pm SA time).

South Africa, who got a bye in the first round, go into this qualifier against an Ethiopian side that defeated the Seychelles 5-0 on aggregate in the first round (0-2 and 3-0).

Amajita head coach Ephraim ”Shakes” Mashaba has put together a squad that comprises a mixture of players that won the U20 Cosafa Cup in Lesotho last year and some talented youngsters who took part in the Safa U19 Championships in Bloemfontein last week.

Mashaba said he had picked eight players from the tournament.

The squad held two training sessions on Tuesday (May 6) at the Eldorado Park Stadium and leaves South Africa for Addis on Thursday.

“We have an almost full complement of players, with only one or two absentees. The boys are showing good touches. We are getting where I want the team to be and I believe we will go and compete in Ethiopia. There are three players we wanted but their clubs couldn’t release them but it is not a problem because I believe we have enough in our arsenal to do well,” said Mashaba.

Ephraim Mashaba
Ephraim Mashaba

The U20 coach said he was happy with the work being done by regions and provinces in producing talent, adding that the team was trying to get a practice match before departure.

“I will be satisfied if we can get that friendly match so that we can judge how far we are in terms of our preparations because this match in Ethiopia is a big clash. It will herald a start of good things to come. If we do well there, it will show we are getting somewhere in terms of our development,” concluded Mashaba.

Amajita will have another workout on Wednesday, May 7 at the Nike Football Training Centre in Pimville, Soweto, at 9am.

The return leg will be held in South Africa on the weekend of May 23-25 at a venue still to be announced.

The 19th edition of the African Youth Championships will be held in Senegal from March 8-22, 2015. The semifinalists in the tournament will represent Africa at the 2015 Fifa U20 World Cup tournament in New Zealand.

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