South Africa coach Helman Mkhalele has named his final squad for the 2020 COSAFA Men’s Under-20 Championship, including a number of players with Premier Soccer League experience.
Midfielder Rowan Human, who plays for Israeli side Beitar Tel Aviv on loan from Maccabi Tel Aviv, burst onto the scene at BidVest Wits last season and is viewed as one of the country’s top prospects.
Oswin Appollis (SuperSport United) and Keletso Sifama (Kaizer Chiefs) are others who have shone in the PSL and will be among the leading lights in what is an exciting selection.
“I am very happy with the squad that we have assembled for this year’s COSAFA tournament,” Mkhalele said. “None of this would have been possible if it was not for the tremendous support we had received for various clubs in releasing their players for this camp.
“For that we are truly grateful as it enabled us with enough time to prepare and work with the players leading up to this crucial event.
“There are two things that we want to get out from this tournament. And that is: we want to qualify for next year’s U-20 AFCON tournament by reaching this year’s COSAFA final and also win the COSAFA Championship.”
But the hosts face a tough Group A where they have been drawn against Zimbabwe, who they meet in their opener on Thursday, Lesotho (Dec. 6) and Mozambique (Dec. 8).
“Most of our neighbouring countries come highly motivated to push for a win when they play against us at any level of football competitions,” Mkhalele said. “They just want to see themselves coming out with a win against us and we are very much aware of that.
“This tournament is not going to be any different. We are expecting a very difficult battle from our Group A opponents. However, we are also motivated to do well in this tournament.
“We have ticked all the boxes in our preparations and we are now looking forward for the battle that lies ahead.”
The top sides in each pool as well as the best-placed runner-up advance to the semifinals, while the two finalists will earn a place at the 2021 Africa Under-20 Cup of Nations.
South Africa squad:
Goalkeepers: Olwethu Mzimela (AmaZulu), Bontle Molefe (Kaizer Chiefs)
Defenders: Nkosikhona Radebe (KZN Academy), Nelson Ralenkoane (Orlando Pirates), Athenkosi Mcaba (Wits), Mohlala Makola (Mamelodi Sundowns), Bilal Baloyi (SuperSport United), Boikanyo Segotlong (Orlando Pirates)
Midfielders: Rivaldo Present (Ubuntu FC), Tshepo Myeni (Kaizer Chiefs), Ethan Brooks (TS Galaxy), Rowan Human (Beitar Tel Aviv, Isreal), Jayden Adams (Stellenbosch FC), Oswin Appollis (SuperSport United), Rahim Milazi (Kaizer Chiefs), Leonardo Rooi (Highlands Park)
Forwards: Sinenjongo Mkiva (SuperSport United), Keenan Bezuidenhout (SuperSport United), Lindokuhle Zungu (AmaZulu), Keletso Sifama (Kaizer Chiefs)