There will be one player at the 2017 Mopani Copper Mines COSAFA Under-20 Championships who will be relishing the opportunity to play more than most having recovered from a horror injury that has kept him out for the last year.
South Africa striker Luvuyo Mkatshana is a star in the making, but a serious knee injury last year in which he tore his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and Meniscus meant he was left side-lined and unable to showcase his considerable talents.
Mkatshana, who is the youth set-up at BidVest Wits, missed the 2016 COSAFA Under-20 Championships, 2017 African Under-20 Championships and the 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, a huge disappointment for the 19-year-old.
But he is hoping to make up for lost time having been selected in the training squad for the 2017 COSAFA Under-20 Championships by Coach Thabo Senong.
“The first six months were not easy at all, the rehabilitation was painful, stretching and emotionally draining,” he told SAFA.net. “However, I’m grateful that my former club teammate Phakamani Mahlambi had gone through the exact same injury before me and I was there to see what he went through, how he toughened up through the rehab and how he managed to prosper after the injury.
“Missing out on all of Amajita’s tournaments was difficult, especially knowing that I was one of the key players in the team, but I am grateful to my teammates and the whole squad for sharing every moment with me.
“I have had a great four months playing consistently and I believe I have grown as a player. I am mentally stronger than before, I am more potent in front of goal. My future is still very bright therefore; I am grateful to the technical team for seeing this in me and giving me a chance to continue where I left off a year ago,” Mkatshana said.
South Africa have a tough first round group as they tackle North African guest nation Egypt, Mozambique and Mauritius, with only the top team in each pool guaranteed a semifinal place, along with the best runner-up.
They will open their campaign against Mozambique at the Nkana Stadium in Kitwe on December 7, before a clash against the Mauritians at the same venue three days later.
They will close their pool with a potentially deciding fixture against Egypt at the Arthur Davies on December 12.
The winner of the pool will play the best runner-up in the semifinals.