South Africa coach Thabo Senong has named his provisional squad for the 2018 MOPANI Copper Mines COSAFA Under-20 Championships and says they will treat the regional showpiece event with the “utmost respect”.
South Africa are the defending champions and are also building towards the 2019 African Under-20 Championships in Niger in February, with the COSAFA competition in Kitwe, Zambia from December 2-14 providing the perfect preparation.
“We are going to treat this tournament with the utmost respect,” Senong said. “Every game is very important for us and we cannot afford to disrespect any sides we will be playing against. Our focus is also set on next year’s Africa Under-20 AFCON tournament in Niger.
“We really need to be ready for it. That is why we have to do well in this tournament. The COSAFA Championship also falls under our preparation plan building up to the continental showdown.”
Senong has called on five overseas-based players for his provisional squad, including Borussia Dortmund playmaker Tashreeq Matthews, Schalke 04 defender Bradley Cross,Vitoria Setubal goalkeeper Buhle Damane, Sanjoanense, winger Kobamelo Kodisang and Ajax Amsterdam centre-back Dean Solomons.
COSAFA Under-20 Championships in 2017, return for another year, while a fixture in the Under-17 side at COSAFA tournaments, Luke Le Roux, also gets a call.
South Africa have been drawn in Group B at the championships and start their campaign against Mauritius on December 3.
They will then face Namibia three days later before round out their pool play against Eswatini on December 8.
South Africa have traditionally been one of the powerhouses in the region in Under-20 football and will be looking to defend the crown they won in Kitwe last year.
They have won the competition six times in all, with their first title coming in 2000. They also hosted the tournament for 11 consecutive years between 1999 and 2009.
They went all the way to the final on home soil in 2016, playing some scintillating football, but lost out to Zambia in the decider with a 2-1 defeat.
That was seen as a major disappointment, but they atoned for that with a run all the way to the gold medal in 2017.
After topping their pool with a full haul of nine points, ‘Amajita’ edged North African guest nation Egypt 1-0 in the semifinals.
That set up a decider with Lesotho and South African emerged as 2-1 winners to take home the trophy.
Provisional South Africa squad:
Goalkeepers: Giovanni Idi (University of Pretoria), Buhle Damane (Vitoria Setubal, Portugal), Khulekani Khubeka (Cape Umoya United), Kopano Thuntsane (Orlando Pirates)
Defenders: Njabulo Blom (Kaizer Chiefs), Zuko Mdunyelwa (Cape Town City), Kgomotso Chiwayo (University of Pretoria), Malebogo Modise (M. Tigers), Bradley Cross (Schalke 04, Germany), Keenan Abrahams (Ajax Cape Town), Dean Solomons (Ajax Amsterdam, Netherlands), Givemore Khupe (Cape Umoya United), Sibusiso Mabiliso (AmaZulu)
Midfielders: Philasande Dlamini (Lamontville Golden Arrows), Siphesihle Mkhize (Mamelodi Sundowns), Luke Le Roux (SuperSport United), Duncan Adonis (Cape Town City), Nkosingiphile Ngcobo (Kaizer Chiefs), Solly Kunyedi (BidVest Wits), Kobamelo Kodisang (Sanjoanense, Portugal), Promise Mkhuma (Mamelodi Sundowns), Tashreeq Matthews (Borussia Dortmund, Germany), Khanyisile Mayo (SuperSport United)
Strikers: Thabiso Monyane (Orlando Pirates), Lyle Foster (Orlando Pirates), Bayanda Shangase (AmaZulu), Bafana Tshawe (Jomo Cosmos)