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Amajimbos end as runners-up in Niger… now for World Champs in Chile
- Updated: March 2, 2015
The gallant national Under-17 football side may have gone down 2-0 to Mali in the 2015 CAF African Youth Championship final in Niamey, Niger on Sunday night but coach Molefi Ntseki said he was happy with his charges’ performance despite the defeat.
By virtue of making the semi-finals, the young South Africans had booked their place in the U17 World Cup in Chile later this year.
Sunday saw a high tempo game which saw the physically bigger Malians using their imposing stature to dictate the pace. But despite the scoreline, the Amajimbos gave as good as they received throughout the 90 minutes.
Stand-out goalkeeper Mondli Mpoto and defender Reeve Frosler were in the thick of action from the word go and respectively came to the rescue of the South Africans as the West Africans sought for an early goal.
It was a physical first half with Amajimbos handling aerial balls well but Mali kept up the pressure and despite going into half time goalless, both teams created gilt-edged chances.
After some constant pressure at the start of the second half, the Malians eventually took the lead through industrious striker Siaka Bagayoko in the 65th minute following some indecisive marking at a corner.
Mpoto had made a number of saves to keep South Africa in the game, with one in particularly impressive, while the Malians also missed several chances with shots that went wide.
It was game over in the 78th minute when Aly Malle doubled Mali’s lead with 12 minutes remaining, getting just reward for another sustained period of pressure to inflict the killer blow with a curling that shot that gave Mpoto no chance.
The Malians showed superior physical dominance and endurance to get that second goal towards the end of the match as Amajimbos ran out of ideas.
South Africa had a Khanyiso Mayo goal ruled out for offside in the 88th minute following good work by the lively Sibongakonke Mbatha and never gave up after a spirited performance, as they kept on pushing to the end.
Amajimbos end the tournament as runners-up, while Guinea claimed third place earlier on Sunday after beating Nigeria 3-1 in the third-place play-off.
‘On another day, the result could have been different,’ said Ntseki. ‘They bullied us off the ball but we always threatened on counter-attacks. We will now focus our attention to the World Cup in Chile. I’m proud of the boys,” he said.
Amajimbos starting XI: Mpoto, Ngcobo, Frosler, Mohamme, Mukumela, Dlala, Meyiwa, Maluleke (c), Mbatha, Mkatshana, Mayo