Thabo Senong explains Amajita Euro trip
Posted: 26 April 2017 Time: 09:10
Amajita coach Thabo Senong has explained the decision to take his preliminary squad to Europe, and hints that some star players may be excluded from the final World Cup squad.
Amajita will depart for the Netherlands on Wednesday evening in order to get their first phase of preparations underway for the upcoming FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea, which kicks off on May 20.
Senong has provided an explaination of the thinking behind this trip to Europe, adding that their next phase will be in Asia and much closer to the start of the tournament.
"The first phase of preparations you always want to play against quality sides that are highly technical and tactical," explains Senong.
"Playing against top clubs like Feyenoord, AFC Ajax and PEC Zwolle, those are teams that are technically very sound – this is what you're going to face against the likes of Japan, Uruguay and Italy [in our World Cup group].
"But then, yes, later in our preparations we'll be playing against under-20 sides in Asia, teams like Saudia Arabia – very strong mentally; Mexico – very strong and aggressive; Costa Rica and Ecuador.
"We've divided our preparations into two phases – Phase one: play quality sides in Europe because we can only improve and learn so much as a team.
"And then of course move to Asia, where we will still play quality sides but also taking into consideration the adaptation to the weather conditions, time difference and of course the environment in Korea."
The Bafana Bafana assistant coach has a total of 28 players in the current camp, excluding the likes of Phakamani Mahlambi, Grant Margeman, Teboho Mokoena and Reeve Frosler, who are all playing key roles at their respective clubs as the domestic season reaches its climax.
Though they could be of great value, Senong says he will not rest his hopes on clubs releasing players in time for the World Cup and will focus solely on preparing the current crop of players to select his final 21-man squad from.
"We have 28 players in this current camp and, from the ones that are here, we have to choose the best 21 [for the World Cup]," says Senong.
"We believe that 21 can come from here. We don't talk much about the players that are not part of the camp; we focus more on the ones who are here.
"I believe the players here can actually help us to identify a strong team that can go there [to the World Cup], however, doors are not closed for anybody.
"If any player joins us in time, so that they can adapat to the time zones in Asia, we can always allow them.
"But if players are going to join us very late, and if it will be difficult for them to adapt, because you need to spend more than a week adapting otherwise you won't be able to sleep, wake up, train or play – [then it's pointless coming]."
Amajita will play three practice matches in Amsterdam – vs Feyenoord on Friday, 28 April 2017, Ajax Amsterdam on Sunday, 30 April 2017 and lastly vs PEC Zwolle on Tuesday, 2 May 2017.