South Africa Under-17 coach Molefi Ntseki has again been scouring the country in search of the best young talent as he prepares to take the side to the regional COSAFA championships in Maurutius starting next week writes Nick Said.
Ntseki led the side to the silver medal last year‚ but this time round is to select a squad made up of players who will still be eligible for their African Under-17 Championship qualifiers next year.
It means it will be an even younger group than is necessary‚ but Ntseki says the competition will provide the group with valuable experience as an introduction to international football.
“It’s because we want to give international exposure to players who will still be eligible for the African Under-17 Championship qualifiers next year‚ so that they can get used to the demands of international football‚” Ntseki says.
“We have had our pre-selection camp last week and have called-up around 45 boys from all over the country for a final camp that will take place from Friday.
“We will put them through training sessions and matches‚ and will continue assessing them before we select our best 20 for the tournament in Mauritius.”
Ntseki is hoping to make a return to the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in 2019‚ having taken the team to the global showpiece in Chile in 2015.
“We missed out on the 2017 World Cup that will be played in India‚ but having had a taste of that tournament and what it is like to be involved at that level‚ we all want to get back there.
“Obviously we have to start afresh every year as boys move to the older age-group‚ but our goal is to develop and enhance the talent that we have to match that standard.”
South Africa have been drawn in Group B at this year’s COSAFA Under-17 Championships‚ where they will face heavyweights Zambia‚ Mozambique and Madagascar‚ with the top two teams advancing to the semifinals.
Group A contains Mauritius‚ Zimbabwe‚ Botswana and Malawi. — TimesLIVE