THE national under-20 soccer team, Makoanyane XI, has upped its preparations for the upcoming COSAFA Cup in Lusaka, Zambia from 4 to 14 December 2019.
Bob Mafoso's charges will have a five-day long camp in South Africa where they will play two intensive friendlies matches with Wits University on Saturday and the Orlando Pirates Multichoice team on Monday.
Mafoso said his charges depart the country tomorrow morning for Johannesburg where they will play their first friendly on Saturday evening.
He said the two friendlies are the last phase of their preparations before departing to Lusaka next Wednesday.
"The team has been working hard in training and this week we were joined by the CF Rydo's duo of Katleho and Kananelo Rapuleng who have been missing due to school commitments," Mafoso said.
"We are leaving on Friday morning and we are hoping to be in Johannesburg by lunch time. We will then play Wits University on Saturday before playing Orlando Pirates Multichoice team on Monday."
Mafoso said they are playing the two teams because they want the two sides to stretch their players to gauge their preparations.
"South African teams in this age-group are speedy, so playing against them will take us out of our comfort zone because they are going to stretch us. We are also facing speedy teams in the tournament, so the friendlies will help us a lot.
"A fortnight ago, we were in Botswana for two friendlies with their under-20 team. We played our normal possession game winning one and drawing the other match. So, we now want to see how we react when playing a team that forces us to play behind the ball and try to catch them on the break. We are just working on a few remaining aspects of the game that we want to iron out.
"This will also help us play slightly with higher speed and if we can contain these two teams, that means we would be ready for the tournament. We are also in the same group with South Africa and their team is mostly made up of players from the same sides. The friendlies will give us a taste of what to expect," he said.
Mafoso said in as much as friendlies are not all about winning, the tournament is now close and they must work on their winning mentality.
The former Rovers midfielder said for now he was impressed with his players' commitment to the cause.
"The players understand each other and its evident that they have been training together. Of course, we still must improve but we are close considering that we still have a long way before the tournament starts. By the time it starts, we will be ready," Mafoso concluded.
Makoanyane XI leave without attacking midfielder Relebohile Thulo who has school commitments while striker Tšeliso Botsane will join them later this week as he has been sitting for his final examinations.
Makoanyane XI Full squad:
Goalkeeper: Motlatsi Sebapala and Jessy Matsie
Defenders: Molikeng Makhebesela, Tebello Mosoeu, Tieho Ntulo, Mellere Samuel Lebetsa, Retšelisitsoe Lekhula, Tuntu Moroahae, Itumeleng Leche.
Midfielders: Tsele Rankhasa, Katiso Selili, Katiso Tsepe, Relebohile Thulo, Tsokolo Nyatamana, Katleho Rapuleng, Kananelo Rapuleng, Mohami Percy Mohami.
Forwards: Tšeliso Botsane, Bonang Mohapi, Katleho Sefuthi.