SAFA technical director Neil Tovey says Amajita must defend better at U-20 World Cup
Posted: 20 May 2017 Time: 18:00
SAFA technical director Neil Tovey believes Amajita can impress at the FIFA U-20 World Cup if they tighten up their defence.
Thabo Senong's charges will open their campaign against Japan at Suwon World Cup Stadium in South Korea on Sunday at 10h00 (SA time), having also been paired with Uruguay and Italy in Group D.
Tovey felt Amajita were dangerous on attack en-route to qualifying for the U-20 World Cup by finishing fourth at the U-20 AFCON earlier this year, but were less convincing at the back in Zambia.
"Six weeks ago we were looking for qualification and now that you qualified you want to go to the knockout stages because that's where all our teams have to go," says the former Kaizer Chiefs defender, who captained Bafana Bafana to AFCON honours in 1996.
"We've got a talented team and as I've said previously we have to defend better, as our defensive areas weren't quite up to scratch in the AFCON tournament. We were very, very good going forward.
"But I'm sure the coaches have worked on how we can defend better. Even getting a little bit tighter on the man and having structure of movements, and working together as a unit to defend better, because it's one thing to defend at AFCON and it's another thing to defend at the World Cup. Standards are high at the World Cup.
"You might have a split second to make a mistake in the AFCON. So it's something that we've to work on but I believe the coaches have worked on it."
Tovey concedes Amajita are in a tough pool, which boasts the Asian, South American and European champions.
"I think it is just about consolidating and you got to play tournament football," he adds.
"I was mentioning earlier that it's a good learning curve for our coaches that they got to identify players playing tournament football, group stage football. At the start of the tournament it's all about qualifying.
"When you get through to the group and then it's about the knockout stages. So we got really tough opponents in Uruguay, Japan and Italy but if you do it right, identify areas and times, moments in the game when we have to attack, and when we've to defend; it's all part of the coach's plans.
"That'll make Thabo Senong and his technical team grow. They'll grow from this tournament hugely and I hope that they've learnt from the AFCON because there were moments from the AFCON like 2-0 up against Senegal [before losing 4-3) where you need to say now what am I going to do to secure the result?
"They'll learn from that. That's what we looking for in the players and in the technical team."