South Africa’s Under-20 national team coach Thabo Senong is expected to make three to four changes to his starting lineup for today’s match against Uruguay.
Senong revealed this after taking his charges through their paces in their final training session at the Munhak World Cup Auxiliary Field yesterday.
“You can expect three to four changes to the team but we will still play the same, attacking football as we need goals,” he said.
Amajita meet the South Americans in their final Group D Fifa Under-20 World Cup match at the Incheon World Cup Stadium, with kick off at (1pm SA time) 8pm local time.
The team goes into this match with their backs against the wall following back to back losses, 2-1 to Japan in their opening fixture and a 2-0 drubbing by Italy in their second encounter.
It is another moment where South Africans will have to whip out their calculators and live in hope that divine intervention plays its role.
Uruguay leads Group D with six points and a plus three goal difference, Italy are on three points with a plus one goal difference followed by Japan also on three points but with a minus one goal difference.
South Africa is at the bottom with no points and a terrible goal difference of minus three.
Perennial optimists and patriots will be hoping for a miracle that will see Amajita score at least three goals without conceding any from the South Americans, while hoping that Japan lose by at least two goals against Italy. This would – not guaranteed – give South Africa a chance as one of the four best third-placed teams. This as the top two teams of each group and the four best third-placed teams advance to the round of 16.
But it is not that simple, even if they were to finish third, other better placed teams from other groups, such as Germany who finished third in Group B but have four points, could sneak in ahead of South Africa.
And, given the previous performances of the Uruguayan team, it looks unlikely that Amajita can put three goals past them with no reply. Uruguay have undoubtedly been the best team in Group D and certainly one of the best in the tournament.
It would be way off the mark to say Senong was upbeat ahead of this match, however, in true form of a captain in charge of a sinking ship, he had some words of encouragement and a glint of hope that things might just work out.
“It is important to go for a positive result,” he enthused. “It is totally not in our hands now. Uruguay is a tough side with tall, tough, aggressive players who have a presence and make it felt.”
He said his team – in what proved to be their longest training session since coming here – had worked on set pieces as well as instilling composure to the attackers.
The whole of South Africa will be holding its collective breath at kick off, but realistically the boys have a mountain taller than Everest to climb.
Appeals for divine intervention will be the order of the day.
This is how Amajita line
SA U20 starting XI:
Mondli Mpoto (GK); Malebogo Modise; Reeve Frosler; Tercious Malepe (C); Thendo Mukumela; Thabo Cele; Grant Margeman; Sibongakonke Mbatha; Masilakhe Phohlongo; Teboho Mokoena; Luther Singh SA U20 Subs:
Sanele Tshabalala (GK); Khulekani Khubeka (GK); Shane Saralina; Sergio Kammies; Sandile Mthethwa; Wiseman Meyiwa; Sipho Mbule; Kobamelo Kodisang; Liam Jordan; Keletso Makgalwa