By Mark Etheridge
The boys’ football side will be first in action for Team South Africa at the African Union Region 5 Games being staged here in Zimbabwe.
The Games get underway officially with the opening ceremony on Friday and run through to Sunday, 15 December.
But the soccer side will be in action shortly before the opening side when they take on Lesotho in the first of their round robin games.
These Games are primarily Under-20 age-group events but with South African already having qualified for the African Youth Championships in Niger next year, this side will feature a younger side.
Said manager Shawn Bishop: ‘The first XI for Niger next year is all but decided already so these Games will be used as a more of an introduction to international exposure at this level.’
Bishop runs the academy at Mamelodi Sundowns and there are five of his charges in the squad. ‘There’s a nice mixture though from SuperSport United, Harmony, Wits and Kaizer Chiefs.
‘Zambia are definitely the side to beat here, I’ve watched them twice and they are a cut above the rest. And Angola will also be worth watching.
‘Having said that though we are definitely here to try and win this event. But realistically with this very young side, I think the semi-finals will be good job.’
South Africa will also play Mozambique and Zambia in their pool.
‘Players worth watching are centre-back Katlego Mohamme and left back Thulani Dhladhla. The strikers we have here are a bit too young to judge properly at this stage.’
One player who’s name will be one to file away for future years is Liam Jordaan. The son of the later Bafana player Keryn Jordan, Bishop reckons he has that X-factor. ‘H’e super talented, some of his movement reminds one of Cristiano Ronaldo.’
Already the teen has had trial spells at English Premier League giants Manchester United and Danish side Brondby.