South Africa coach Helman Mkhalele has named his preliminary squad for the 2020 COSAFA Men’s Under-20 Championship as he works out his options for the final 20-man selection for the December 3-13 competition.
South Africa will be among the favourites to regain the trophy they lost to Zambia last year, but have been drawn in a difficult Group A that also includes Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Lesotho.
There is more than the coveted COSAFA trophy on offer this year as well, with the two finalists advancing to the 2021 Africa Under-20 Cup of Nations, which in turn is a qualifier for the next FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
South Africa have appeared in the last two installments of the global finals in 2017 and 2019, and will be desperate to make it a hat-trick of appearances.
“I am truly looking forward to this year’s COSAFA Men’s Under-20 Championship,” Mkhalele said. “We have roped in talented players which I believe have what it takes to represent the country in at the upcoming tournament.
“We can only take 20 of them to the tournament and I believe each and every one of them, do have what it takes to make the team.
“Our mission for this year’s COSAFA edition is no different from what we wanted to achieve in last year’s. We want to win this year’s COSAFA championship and also qualify for next year’s U-20 AFCON tournament set to take place in Mauritania, too.
“A top two finish earns us a spot in next year’s AFCON edition, however, walking away being crowned this year’s COSAFA Men’s Under-20 Championship will also make us extremely proud.
“We lost out to Zambia in last year’s COSAFA final and we just want to improve from that performance.”
Mkhalele, who won the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations with Bafana Bafana and earned 66 caps for his country, says he has drawn inspiration from Banyana Banyana coach Des Ellis and her four COSAFA Women’s Championship wins in a row.
“One always draws inspiration from those who are doing well in their crafts,” Mkhalele said. “Coach Desiree Ellis has done extremely well with her charges in winning her fourth consecutive COSAFA title. I would really like to applaud her for that and say that she must keep up with the good work she has been doing for the nation.
“I made the boys aware of how the Banyana Banyana team fared in this competition, and how important it is for us to do the same for our nation, too.
“Everybody is fully aware of the responsibility that is now on our shoulders and we will give it our utmost best to make the country proud.”
South Africa preliminary squad:
Goalkeepers: Olwethu Mzimela (AmaZulu), Bontle Molefe (Kaizer Chiefs), Sipho Maseti (TS Galaxy)
Defenders: Nkosikhona Radebe (KZN Academy), Kyle Coimbra (Bedfordview), Nelson Ralenkoane (Orlando Pirates), Athenkosi Mcaba (Wits), Paul Makola (Mamelodi Sundowns), Macbeth Mahlangu (TS Galaxy)
Midfielders: Rivaldo Present (Ubuntu FC), Sydney Malivha (Matanada Rockers FC), Bilal Baloyi (SuperSport United), Boikanyo Segotlong (Orlando Pirates), Mpho Mathebula (SuperSport United), Sandile Nyundu (TS Galaxy FC), Tshepo Myeni (Kaizer Chiefs), Ethan Brooks (TS Galaxy), Rowan Human (Maccabi Tel Aviv), Jayden Adams (Stellenbosch FC), Selaelo Rasebotja (SuperSport United), Keletso Sifama (Kaizer Chiefs), Oswin Appollis (SuperSport United), Katlego Tsotetsi (Orlando Pirates), Rahim Milazi (Kaizer Chiefs), Sechaba Ramosedi (TS Galaxy)
Forwards: Sinenjongo Mkiva (SuperSport United), Keenan Bezuidenhout (SuperSport United), Lindokuhle Zungu (AmaZulu), Ndumiso Xulu (TS Galaxy)