The South African Under-17 Men’s National Team, Amajimbos, will have to hit the ground running after a delayed departure to Goa, India, to participate in the inaugural BRICS Under-17 Football Cup.

Amajimbos are expected to arrive in the Indian city on Thursday night following their delayed departure.

The South Africans play their first match against the hosts on Friday, 7 October at Bambolin Grounds (kickoff is at 16h00 local time, 12h30 SA time).

Amajimbos have been in camp since Thursday, 29 September, and have had two practice matches against Pimville Young Stars and the Supersport Academy – losing 2-1 and 3-1 respectively.

“This was a very welcome exercise on different fronts. First, we had to see how far they were in terms of fitness, as well as technical and tactical readiness. Based on our findings from that match, we worked out a programme because had been busy with exams. Then we also played against Supersport United to give us an idea of what we needed to work on,” said Amajimbos head coach Molefi Ntseki.

“The results were not that important to us because we were on a fact-finding mission. The loss to Pimville Youngsters was a wake-up call for our players as we were playing against bigger and older boys. When you look at the practice matches and want to emphasise on the results, then you end up not having a very positive mind going into a tournament – the emphasis was more on tactical mistakes, which we had to rectify.”

Ntseki is not too bothered by the late arrival in India.

“To be honest we would have loved to be there as early as possible to also acclimatise, but due to matters beyond our control we were not able to. We cannot cry over spilt milk but have to soldier on. From the delay, we were able to fit in more training sessions so we departed South Africa ready to play, having completed our preparations,” added Ntseki.

He has emphasised the importance of getting off to a good start.

“It is very important to win your first match as it sets the tone for the rest of the tournament. If you do well in your first match, then you have an opportunity to go all the way to the final,” said Ntseki.

The u17 mentor has had to make changes to the initial team after some players suffered injuries – Thapelo Gaogatwe, Thabiso Monyane and Sphamandla Ntuli, while Linamandla Mcilizeli and Bonga Dladla have had to be withdrawn due to passport problems. Dladla was a late withdrawal, leaving Amajimbos with 21 players.

Kabelo Makola (Bophelo High School), Thabo Mokoena (Kaizer Chiefs) as well as Sthembiso Kurata and Mpho Mahlangu (both from Supersport United) have been called up as replacements.

Meanwhile, India lost their opening match 1-0 to a ten-man Russia on Wednesday, at Bambolin Grounds.

Russia scored through Lopatin Daniil in the 4th minute.

Brazil were comfortable 2-0 winners over China in the earlier match.

The BRICS Under-17 Football Cup features the five BRICS countries – economic block formed by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa

It will be played annually and each edition will be hosted by one of the BRICS nations

It is seen as a dress rehearsal for the 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup which will be hosted by India from September – October 2017

Results and Fixtures:
Round Robin Stage, Bambolin Ground Wednesday:
China 0 – 2 Brazil
Russia 1 – 0 India

Friday 07-10-2016:

South Africa vs India, 16h00 (12h30 SA Time)
China vs Russia, 20h00

Sunday 09-09-2016:

Brazil vs Russia, 16h00
South Africa vs China, 20h00 (16h30 SA Time)

Tuesday 11-09-2016:

India vs China, 16h00
Brazil vs South Africa, 20h00 (16h30 SA Time)

Thursday 13-10-2016:

Russia vs South Africa, 16h00 (12h30 SA Time)
India vs Brazil, 20h00

African News Agency (ANA)