26 January 2015
The Amajita, South Africa’s men’s under-20 national team, beat Finland 2-1 in a gruelling final to win the Commonwealth Cup tournament in St Petersburg, Russia, on Sunday.
Goals by captain Motjeka Madisha and inspirational Pule Maraisane gave Amajita a historic win ahead of going to the CAF African Youth tournament in Senegal in March.
And to cap an incredible two-week tournament, Madisha was named man of the tournament, while Maraisane was named striker of the tournament.
“It has been an exhausting two-week competition because in most cases it meant playing back-to-back matches, and this takes toll on players as they pick up injuries and fatigue also sets in,” said David Notoane, the stand-in coach who was assisted by goalkeeper coach Wendell Robinson.
Notoane said there was no time to reflect on this sweet victory because the team had to get back to work and start preparing for Senegal. The team’s goal was not only to qualify for the World Cup, but to win the trophy.
“These boys have tasted how sweet winning things is like, and they should carry this spirit to Senegal,” said Notoane.
While he praised the entire team for a job well done, Notoane admitted they would consolidate the squad with all their “strong guns” for West Africa. These players include Ayabulela Magqwaka, Rivaldo Coetzee, Fagre Lakay, Holland-based Nhlakanipho Ntuli, and Tyrone Sadous, who plays for Gremio in Brazil.
Madisha said they could hardly wait for the CAF African Youth tournament: “Sometimes, when you are on a roll, you don’t want to disturb the rhythm by taking a break – though it is good to recharge the batteries.”
“Bring them on – I mean, bring the African teams on,” added Maraisane. “We are ready for anything that is thrown at us. This Commonwealth Cup has hardened us and we will go to the Africa Youth tournament well prepared and not undercooked.”
Inspirational midfielder Tlotlo Leepile said the current Amajita team had gelled just at the right time.
“We are going to Senegal with little complaint. We have undergone some rigorous competition and, if we don’t do well there, we will have no one to blame,” he said.
Rightback Kabelo Seriba said winning tournaments was always a sign of a team eager to write history.
“We are very much on path to achieve just that. Not that we should underestimate anyone. Going to play tournaments on the continent is always a tricky affair but, in all fairness, I think we should be good to compete with the big boys now,” he said.
The Amajita arrive in South Africa at 2pm on Tuesday afternoon.
Amajita starting 11 v Finland: Dumisani Msibi, Kabelo Seriba, Motjeka Madisha, Maphosa Modiba, Denwin Farmer, Siphelele Luthuli, Tlotlo Leepile, Pule Maraisane, Keamogetswe Boikanyo, Siyanda Ngubo, Thamsanqa Masiya.