Although the team luck­ily avoided the hosts, Tovey be­lieves it’s still a

Tough draw

CityPress - - Sport - DANIEL MOTHOWAGAE dmoth­owa­gae@city­press.co.za (see box).

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.

PHOTO: SA­MUEL SHIVAMBU / BACKPAGEPIX

CHIEF PLAN­NER Safa tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor Neil

Tovey

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