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Knowing your Under-23 stars

Posted: 24 November 2015 Time: 12:37

The South African Under-23 side start their bid for a place at the 2016 Olympics on Saturday at the Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations.

The top three finishers at the tournament in Senegal will qualify for the Games in Rio de Janeiro, with Owen da Gama’s team in Group A alongside the hosts, Tunisia and Zambia.

Group B comprises of Nigeria, Algeria, Mali and Egypt.

Over the next few days we will profile all our Under-23 stars, starting with these five:

Denwin Farmer

The 19-year-old Farmer is a SuperSport United defender who was just recently promoted to the first team and made his full debut in the 1-0 win over Orlando Pirates in their League opener this season. The Port Elizabeth-born centre-back raised his hand for selection in the 2014/15 MultiChoice Diski Challenge campaign, and has become a regular for Gordon Igesund’s side this season. Playing alongside Bafana Bafana teammate Clayton Daniels has undoubtedly offered Farmer some valuable experience which he can bring into Da Gama’s team. 

Deolin Mekoa

Mekoa came through the Castle Lager Superstars talent scouting campaign before earning a first team contract with Maritzburg United at the beginning of the 2014/15 season. He made his debut under current Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Komphela in the Team of Choice’s opening League match, which they drew 1-1 with Mamelodi Sundowns, and went on to amass three goals in 13 starts and three substitute appearances. This season, despite the team’s dismal start to the season, the KwaZulu Natal-born winger has made eight starts and two sub appearances. Mekoa was invited by Shakes Mashaba to train with Bafana Bafana ahead of their back-to-back international friendlies against Swaziland and Nigeria in March last year.

Menzi Masuku

Masuku hails from former Bafana midfielder Harold ‘Jazzy Queen’ Legodi’s popular Africa Sport Youth Development (ASD) Academy in Johannesburg. The 22-year-old attacking midfielder was previously in Mpumalanga Black Aces, Roses United and Jomo Cosmos’ development sides, before joining Orlando Pirates in 2014. Masuku burst onto the scene when he scored a brace on his full debut in Bucs’ 4-1 League victory over SuperSport in April this year, before scoring two more goals in their 2-2 draw with Ajax Cape Town in their final match of 2014/15, bagging four goals in two starts and three sub appearances. Since then, the KwaMashu-born attacker has been a key figure for the Under-23 team, alongside the likes of Keagan Dolly, Siphelele Ntshangase and Riyaad Norodien in midfield.

Ricardo Goss

Still only 21, Goss made his PSL debut for Golden Arrows as a teenager in May 2013 against Moroka Swallows when Manqoba Mngqithi was still the coach. He didn’t play the next season when the club was eventually relegated from the PSL, and last season also had to be content with being a back-up option. So basically Goss has been brought in not because of his current form, but due to the fact that he has performed in previous camps and the technical team is familiar with him. However, he stands a good chance of breaking through to become first-choice in Senegal based on the fact that he was given the nod in the friendly match against Tanzania. He has been with Arrows since he was 14 and was also called up for the COSAFA Cup back in May.

Julius Likontsane

Witbank Spurs striker Likontsane received his maiden call-up to the Under-23 team following a lively start to his season in the National First Division. The former Maluti FET College attacker was snapped up by the Mpumalanga-based side at the beginning of the season, and has so far notched up three goals to help his team to second place on the log standings. Likontsane graduated from Celtic Colts, which is the development side of Bloemfontein Celtic, before joining Maluti, and also possesses previous junior international experience after representing South Africa at Under-20 level under the tutelage of Solly Luvhengo. The 21-year-old, who hails from Welkom in the Free State, will be hoping to make his first competitive appearance for Da Gama’s side when they jet off to Senegal later this month.

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