Amajita face Senegal in tough semi
SA Under-20 side must overturn history with a last-four win last achieved 22 years ago
Amajita must put a poor recent record behind them in the African Under-20 Championship semifinals when they take on powerful Senegal in their last four clash in Niamey on Wednesday night.
Coach Thabo Senong’s side advanced to the knockout stages with a win and two draws in Pool A‚ and in doing so booked a berth at the 2019 Fifa Under-20 World Cup in Poland in May.
But their toughest assignment is against the Senegalese‚ who won all three of their pool matches‚ scoring nine goals in the process.
And having exited at this stage in their last two attempts‚ history is not on Amajita’s side.
They lost 4-3 to Ghana in a thriller in the 2009 semifinals‚ though they came up against future Black Stars such as André Ayew‚ Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu‚ Samuel Inkoom and Jonathan Mensah. They reached the semifinals again in 2017 but were beaten by hosts Zambia‚ undone by a single goal from Edward Chilufya.
Amajita midfielder Luke le Roux knows the job at hand on Wednesday‚ but feels they stand a good chance.
“It is not going to be an easy game for either side‚” the 18-year-old SuperSport United star said. “However‚ we have studied our opponents and we know what to expect from them.
“The technical staff have been exceptional in preparing this team‚ and we are ready for Wednesday’s match. Now that we have completed the first mission of qualifying [for the World Cup]‚ we want to go all the way. Who knows‚ we may just bring back the gold. It would be a great achievement.”
Most of Senegal’s squad are home-based players‚ though they do have promising Fortuna Sittard Amadou Ciss‚ and Youssouph Mamadou Badji‚ the tournament’s top goalscorer with with three strikes.
SA have tasted semifinal success before when they beat Ghana 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in 1997. That side included Benni McCarthy‚ Matthew Booth‚ David Kannemeyer and Stanton Fredericks.
They would go on to lose the final 1-0 to hosts Morocco.