2 June 2012

South Africa: Eight-Nation International Tournament of Great Benefit to Amajita

Photo: SAFA
South Africa's Amajita in a superb in Ghana victory

The South African Under-20 Men's National team (Amajita) in the final after they lost on penalties to Brazil on Friday night, but the experience gained against some of the world's leading youth sides is a massive plus point says coach Solly Luvhengo.

Amajita bounced back from a 3-1 opening game defeat to Argentina to beat Ghana and Nigeria, before pushing Brazil to their very limits at Athlone.

In all four of their games the South Africans have impressed spectators, as well as their competitors, with the speed, movement and skill of their game.

Brazil coach Ney Franco and Argentine coach Marcelo Trobbiani have on numerous occasions had words of praise for the host nation, and have both also sung the praises of SuperSport United midfielder Snethemba Ngidi.

The diminutive but powerful Ngidi has been a revelation throughout and could well lay a claim to be the best player at the competition. Striker Thabani Mtehmbu has also been outstanding, not only for his four goals, but for his overall game.

Luvhengo was understandably upset to have seen his team losing to Brazil in the lottery of a penalty shoot-out.

"We were the first team to score two goals against Brazil in their tournament. I think we gave them the second goal, they didn't work for it. But as one always says, the best lessons are leant from failure. From this game we learnt a lot.

"I think at stages we were better than Brazil. We were organised, hungry and aggressive, I felt we deserved another goal, but it didn't come and congratulations on Brazil getting to the final.

"Off the ball my players worked very, very hard. It's unbelievable they were able to press until the 120th minute of the match.

The youthful coach can however be very proud of the way his team played. After the post-match press conference he received a deserved standing ovation from media contingent as tribute to the gutsy and impressive performances of his team.

As he points out, the week-long tournament has provided crucial experience to his young charges.

"This tournament has really helped us. It's the first time we have really been together as a team. The game is the best teacher. At times, at youth level, losing can be a big part of winning in the future.

"There is definitely something to build on with this team. We need to get as many games as possible, together we can only get better."

Amajita will on Sunday (3 June) play their final match of the tournament when they clash with Japan in the play-off for third place (Cape Town Stadium, 14H00).

"When we started I said we would be happy to get a medal, it just depended on the colour of that medal. We can still do that.

"I'm happy that we have another game together for these kids. We have played African giants, we have played South American giants, its good for us to play an Asian giant now," said Luvhengo.

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