Ntseki announces final 20-man COSAFA Cup squad

Head coach of the South African U17 Men's National Team (Amajimbos), Molefi Ntseki, has announced the final 20-man squad that will participate in the 2018 COSAFA U17 Championship that will be played in Mauritius from 19 � 29 July.

The South Africans have been in camp since Tuesday, 3 July and are expected to leave for Mauritius on Sunday, 15 July. Ntseki says it was a difficult process to come up with the final squad, from the initial 32, as all the boys raised their hands.

It was a very hard and long process to select the travelling squad. We had to identify the formation based on the type of players we have; we had to consider utility players � players who can play more than one position because if you go into a tournament and you encounter injuries or suspensions, you have to rotate the team around but still keep structure and formation intact; we also looked at the mentality of the players because a tournament like this can put a lot of pressure on the boys, said Ntseki.

So I can safely say we will have a team that has been together for some time, and we are looking forward to have a very good tactical understanding, a very good emotional cohesion among the squad � and we are very positive and are looking forward to do well in this tournament.

Amajimbos are in Group B alongside defending champions Zambia, as well as Lesotho and Mozambique.

To prepare for the tournament, they had practice matches against Kaizer Chiefs earlier in the week (Tuesday, 10 July), as well as Supersport United on Thursday, 12 July.

We saw big improvements in our game against Supersport in terms of the tactical approach to the game, individual talent and tactical understanding � so we are very happy with the performance we saw from the boys in the last practice match. There was a lot of commitment, they really enjoyed themselves and we enjoyed the game too, added Ntseki.

This was our last preparation match (against Supersport) before we leave on Sunday for COSAFA, and we are happy, even though the most difficult part was to trim the squad for the tournament. We had to leave out 12 of the players � but we had a meeting with them and explained that we can't all go to Mauritius, as we had to register only 20 players.

As per the tournament rules, the squad also had to undergo the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan to ensure they are within the age limit.

In terms of this scan, it was also good for us to know and make sure that our boys are 16 and younger so they can play in the upcoming COSAFA CUP, then next year in the African Youth Champs in Tanzania and the FIFA World Cup in Peru as they will still be 17 or younger.

South Africa will open their account with a clash against Lesotho on Friday, 20 July at 13h30, followed by the clash against Mozambique two days later (Sunday, 22 July) at 10h00. Both matches will be played at the Auguste Vollaire Stadium in Flacq.

The final group stage match against the defending champions Zambia will see Amajimbos travelling to the capital Port Louis on Tuesday, 24 July.

The fixture will be played at the St Francois Xavier Stadium at 13h00.

In Group A, hosts Mauritius are with Botswana, 2016 champions Namibia and Seychelles, while Zimbabwe, Angola, Malawi and Swaziland are in Group C.

South Africa finished second and fourth in the competition in Mauritius in the last two years � but will now need to take it a notch up as the winner of the tournament this year will qualify for the U17 Africa Cup of Nations in Tanzania, which doubles up as a FIFA U17 Men's World Cup qualifier.

Source: South African Football Association