2 March 2015
The Amajimbos, the South African national under-17 team, went down 2-0 to Mali in the 2015 CAF African Youth Championship final in Niamey, Niger, on Sunday night – but coach Molefi Ntseki said he was happy with his charges’ performance despite the defeat.
It was a high-tempo game that saw the physically bigger Malians using their imposing stature to dictate the pace, although the Amajimbos gave as much as they received for the full 90 minutes.
Stand-out goalkeeper Mondli Mpoto and defender Reeve Frosler were in the thick of action from the word go and came to the rescue of the South Africans as the West Africans sought for an early goal.
It was a physical first half with Amajimbos handling aerial balls well but Mali keeping up the pressure. Despite going to half-time goalless, both teams created gilt-edged chances.
After some constant pressure at the start of the second half, the Malians took the lead thanks to striker Siaka Bagayoko in the 65th minute.
Mpoto had made a number of saves to keep South Africa in the game, with one in particularly impressive, while the Malians also missed several chances with shots that went wide.
It was game over in the 78th minute when Aly Malle doubled Mali’s lead with a curling that shot that gave Mpoto no chance.
The Malians showed superior physical dominance and endurance, the Amajimbos never gave up and they kept on pushing to the end.
South Africa had a Khanyiso Mayo goal ruled out for offside in the 88th minute, following good work by the lively Sibongakonke Mbatha.
Amajimbos end as runners-up, with Guinea claiming third place earlier on Sunday after beating Nigeria 3-1 in the play offs.
“On another day, the result could have been different. They bullied us off the ball but we always threatened on counter-attacks. We will now focus our attention to the World Cup in Chile. I am proud of the boys,” he said.
Amajimbos XI: Mpoto, Ngcobo, Frosler, Mohamme, Mukumela, Dlala, Meyiwa, Maluleke (c), Mbatha, Mkatshana, Mayo.
Mali XI: Traore, Dante, Bagayoko, Sangare, I. Traore, Mamadou Fofana, Koita, Malle. Maiga, B. Traore.