Amajita head coach Thabo Senong says although disappointed his side could not proceed to the next round he was proud of his boys’ achievements at the FIFA U20 World Cup in South Korea.


Amajita managed just one point from their three matches where they lost 2-1 and 2-0 to Japan and Italy respectively but were able to hold Group D log leaders Uruguay to a goalless draw.

The squad arrived at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Monday. ‘I’m still proud of the boys and I believe it was a good experience for all of us. We played tough opponents and were in a very strong group but we learnt a lot in every match. We played well against Japan and against Uruguay, where I think we were not lucky to get a win, but we were not good against Italy,’ said Senong upon arrival in Johannesburg.

‘I still believe we have a very good team and the future looks bright. The priority is to make sure these boys graduate to the U23 national team. I also believe a few players can be fast-tracked to the Bafana Bafana senior national team.’

The Amajita mentor is happy about the opportunity to expose the boys to a demanding environment. ‘The level was higher, the standard was tougher, the competition was very strong and we had to expose our boys to these kind of conditions. But it was not easy They really wanted to win, they gave their all but the composure in the final third was still not there,’ added Senong.

‘This was their best way to learn – to see their strengths and their weaknesses but I still believe in them. Their attitude on the field was very positive – unfortunately we didn’t proceed to the next round. We need to continue to improve as a nation and as a continent and close the gap between us and the other best footballing nations in the world.’

Senong is adamant that a lot needs to change to get the team to perform to its maximum.

‘At the moment we’re proud that we are always present in CAF and international tournaments but now the next step is to ensure that we compete and go to the next round. This requires a lot of factors and one of them is to ensure that all the players get good game time at a higher level like PSL or NFD, that will help them and fast-track their development. What we learnt is that tactical maturity was lacking, our boys are not exposed to tough competition every weekend and that was the difference between us and our opponents,’ said Senong.

‘Their players are playing at a higher level but we took a talented group of players with most not playing at a higher level. I’m positive that more will be playing in the PSL, or moving abroad to get stiff competition from an early age – you saw how the likes of Reeve Frosler (Bidvest Wits), Grant Margeman (Ajax Cape Town) and Teboho Mokoena (Supersport United) excelled because of the kind of competition they are getting every weekend, hopefully that will happen with the rest of the squad and will help the national team build an even stronger U23. ‘

In three matches, South Africa was the lowest scoring nation in Group D with just one goal to their name, having let in four.

Uruguay completed the group stage without conceding, while Japan had a leaky defence where they were scored against five times.

Uruguay and Italy were joined by Japan, who qualified as one of the four best third-placed teams in the last 16 of the tournament.

– See more at: