Munyaradzi Chiwanza, Bloemfontein
THE South African Under-20 team won their fifth Cosafa Under-20 Youth Championships Cup, beating Kenya 2-0 to at Maseru’s Setsoto Stadium to take home a cup they first won 13 years ago.
Amajita, who had to wait for five years before testing Cosafa glory having last won the cup in 2008, have also previously won the regional trophy it 2000 – their first victory – and in 2004 and 2006.
Coach Shakes Mashaba praised his Amajita for the sterling performance which saw them trounce Kenya who were invited to take part in the tournament that is for southern African countries.
It was the first time for the east Africans to take part.
“The boys played very well with a lot of commitment and they are the best U/20 side I have coached,” Mashaba told the Free State Times this week.
According to Mashaba the conquering Amajita side now needs to be carefully nurtured until they reach the senior level, adding the youngsters could be moulded into a formidable Bafana Bafana side in future going by their showing at the Lesotho tourney which they finished without conceding a defeat.
“We need to keep them together, from the U/20 side to the U/23 team and until they reach the senior level,” said Mashaba.
“There is need for continuity. They need to keep playing together as a team and we need to give them more games and competitions to play,” he added.
Amajita, whose walk to the finals saw them dismiss Zimbabwe 4-3 on penalties at the semi-finals stage before Ayabulela Magqwaka and Ayanda Ngubo struck either side of the interval to carry the day for the South Africans against the Kenyans.
Mashaba said there was need for a mechanism to monitor and groom young talented stars and avoid the mistakes of the past when previous promising talent was allowed to fade and disappear into oblivion.
“Some of the young players lose form while others lose interest and others just fade along the way,” said Mashaba. He added: “It’s because the youngsters don’t have many games to play
and all they need is more competition and exposure to keep them focussed.”
Mashaba encouraged the young champions not to be complacent or to bask in
the glory of their recent victory but to instead keep on working harder and aiming for even higher targets next year.
He said: “The boys need to go back and prepare for next year …. they must now prepare well knowing that they are others who are coming up and 2014 will be another year of hard work.”
Amajita’s five Cosafa cups makes them the third highest winners of the championships after Zimbabwe which has won the competition six times. Zambia has won the most trophies with a record 10 trophies.