Amajita national U20 football captain Khulekani Kubheka says the team need to be focused so they can finish off Mozambique when the two nations collide again for Sunday’s second leg of the Caf U20 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
South Africa held Mozambique to a 1-1 away draw in Beira City on Saturday – scoring an all-important away goal at Campo de Ferroviaro da Beira.
‘I think it was a very good game and a very difficult one but my teammates handled it very well. You could see that Mozambique had a good game plan, they came very prepared. To go out there and put in a solid performance like that gives us a solid foundation for the second leg,’ said Kubheka.
‘The coaches did a good job trying to bring us together and helping us adapt to the situation and surroundings as quickly as possible, and the guys responded well to that. Everybody had their part to play and did so very well. We just have to focus and finish the job at home.’￼
Amajita were the first to draw blood on Saturday against the Mambinhas with a 63rd-minute strike from Tashreeq Matthews, but the visitors could not hold on to their lead as they let the hosts back in with a goal from captain Kamo-Kamo just eight minutes from the final whistle.
But the former goalkeeper of the South African Amajimbos U17 side believes the away goal was crucial.
‘They know that, as it stands, we have the upper hand. They are playing away but I don’t think they’re going to sit back and let us take the game to them. With this away goal we scored, they are going to come at us, so we need to be very alert and focused – we shouldn’t take it lightly that we got an away goal and relax.’
With head coach Thabo Senong building a new U20 squad, Kubheka has so far been given the nod to wear the captain’s armband and lead the team, a position he doesn’t take for granted.
‘Leading anything, especially something that you love is a big honour. I love playing for my country and I love playing football so being captain of such a great group of players and of the national team is indeed a real honour. I cannot thank the coaches enough for entrusting me with this huge responsibility. I would just like to thank the players for their support and motivating me,’ said Kubheka.
The South Africans moved to Rustenburg on Monday where they will continue with preparations for the second leg at Moruleng Stadium at 3pm.
Various permutations mean that a goalless draw will see South Africa proceed to the next round on the away goal rule while a 1-1 all draw after full time will result in a penalty shootout. A draw of two goals each (2-2, 3-3) or more, will see Mozambique go through on the away goal rule.
The overall winner between South Africa and Mozambique will meet the winner between Malawi and Angola – at this point, it seems like Angola, who won 2-1 away.
The victorious country in the third and final round of the qualifiers will book their place in the eight-nation Caf U20 Africa Cup of Nations tournament, which will take place in Niger from 24 February to 12 March 2019.
The top four teams at this competition will be Africa’s representatives at the 2019 Fifa U20 World Cup in Poland.