KickOff.com year-end review of South African national teams in 2017
Posted: 26 December 2017 Time: 16:00
As 2017 nears its end, KickOff.com reviews the performances of the various men’s national teams, as well as the senior women’s national team, over this past year.
National under-17 Men - 5
Amajimbos had a rather quiet 2017, having played just five competitive games at the 2017 COSAFA U-17 Championships in Mauritius in July.
The men’s national under-17 team made it through the group stages of the regional showpiece, after beating Mozambique, losing to Zambia and edging Madagascar.
However, Molefi Ntseki’s side failed to bag any silverware after they were defeated by hosts Mauritius in the semi-final, before going down to Malawi in the third-place play-off.
Amajimbos will next take part in the 2019 AFCON U-17 Qualifiers, which is scheduled to kick-off in the latter stages of 2018.
National under-20 men – 7
Amajita enjoyed a promising 2017 as they featured at the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in May, before lifting the COSAFA U-17 Championships trophy in Zambia in December.
The men’s national under-20 side qualified for their first World Cup in eight years but were unable to register a win at the showpiece in Korea Republic.
They failed to register a win at the tournament and finished bottom of their group after losing to Japan and Italy, before putting in a valiant effort to hold Uruguay to a goalless draw.
Thabo Senong’s charges recently went on five-match winning streak, claiming the scalps of Mauritius, Mozambique, Egypt – twice, and eventually Lesotho en route their sixth regional championships title earlier this month.
National under-23 team – N/A
The men’s national under-23 team were dormant in 2017, having last assembled under former coach Owen da Gama at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro last year.
Banyana Banyana – 7
The senior women’s national team once again stood out above their male counterparts as they clinched the COSAFA Women’s Championships title in September, before being nominated for CAF’s prestigious Women’s Team of the Year award for 2017.
Despite the departure of Vera Pauw, interim coach Desire Ellis lead her charges a fourth regional championship crown, becoming the first South Africa woman to do so as a player and a coach.
Banyana thrashed Lesotho and Namibia in their two opening group encounters, before drawing 1-1 with Botswana to advance to the semi-finals.
They then fought to a stunning win over Zambia when they won 5-3 on penalties, after coming back from a 3-0 deficit in regulation time, before overcoming hosts Zimbabwe with a 2-0 scoreline to lift the trophy.
CAF in December named the South African women’s team amongst the final three nominees for the prestigious Women’s Team of the Year award, while Banyana striker Thembi Kgatlana is also one of the final three candidates for the Women’s Player of the Year award.
The awards gala is set to take place in Accra, Ghana on January 4.
Bafana Bafana – 5
2017 is certainly a year to forget for Bafana Bafana fans, with the team having yet again failed to qualify for a FIFA World Cup.
Bafana started the year off on a bright note as they beat Guinea-Bissau 3-1 in an international friendly in March, while assistant coach Owen da Gama was still in charge on a caretaker basis.
Following the announcement of Stuart Baxter as the new head coach, the senior men’s national team recorded a stunning 2019 AFCON qualifying victory over Nigeria in June, but the joy was short-lived as they lost 2-1 to Zambia in a friendly three days later.
They then went on to win the plate final in the COSAFA Senior Challenge in Rustenburg, before failing to qualify for the 2018 CHAN after suffering a second-round defeat to Zambia in August.
In September, Bafana’s 2018 FIFA World Cup hopes took a blow when they suffered shock back-to-back defeats to lowly-ranked Cape Verde, while FFA also announced that the 2-1 win over Senegal in November 2016 had been annulled, with SAFA accepting the ruling.
In October, Baxter’s charges spared their blushes as they recorded an encouraging 3-1 win over Burkina Faso, to keep their slim hopes of a spot in Russia alive.
However, all hopes were dashed in November when they suffered back-to-back defeats to Senegal, who booked their places at next year’s World Cup finals.
As a result, South Africa embarrassingly ended bottom of Group D, having collected just four points from six games.