Although the team luckily avoided the hosts, Tovey believes it’s still a
SA Under-17 coach Molefi Ntseki’s wish to avoid the host nation at the Fifa Under-17 World Cup was granted this week. Amajimbos will make their debut at the 24-nation global showpiece that takes place in Chile from October 17 to November 8.
They will be pitted against Costa Rica, Russia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) in Group E
Safa technical director Neil Tovey still believes the Amajimbos were handed a tough draw.
“If you look at the three countries in our group, they have very good development structures in place. They also have contrasting playing styles – the Koreans are a hard-running side,” said Tovey, following the draw that Ntseki graced in Santiago on Friday.
“The plan going forward would be to play against opposition with the same qualities during the preparations.”
Tovey has been helping to prepare national teams for major tournaments since his appointment last month.
He said: “It shows our teams are doing something right. They, especially the juniors, have not qualified for big tournaments like the World Cup in a long time.”
The SA Under-20s were the last junior team to reach the global tournament – in 2009. “Our boys will gain valuable experience at the World Cup,” said Tovey.
Amajimbos – representing Africa with Nigeria, Mali and Guinea – are the only inexperienced side in their group.
Costa Rica are back at the World Cup after they failed to qualify for the editions in Mexico (2011) and the United Arab Emirates (2013). They were eliminated in the first round at the 2009 edition in Nigeria. Despite their groupstage successes in World Cups between 2001 and 2007, the Central American nation have never gone beyond the quarterfinals.
Former European champions Russia made their World Cup debut in 2013 and were knocked out by Brazil in the last 16.
Two-time Asian champions North Korea failed to go past the group stage in Mexico in 2011, having reached the second round on their World Cup debut in 2005 in Peru and again in South Korea in 2007.
Ntseki is expected to announce his provisional squad later this month.
He guided Amajimbos to Chile with a second-place finish at the African Under-17 Championship in Niger early this year.
South Africa lost 2-0 to Mali in the final but their ticket to Chile was already booked by virtue of having reached the semifinals of the youth continental championship.
The Confederation of African Football staged the Niger tournament as the qualifying event for the World Cup.
CHIEF PLANNER Safa technical director Neil