By FOCUS REPORTER
THE South African Under 23 national team departs for Malawi today for the second leg of their All Africa Games qualifier. The Shakes Mashaba-led side will face the home side on Saturday at the Civo Stadium in Lillongwe. Kickoff is at 2.30pm
The SA team is in high spirits as they are taking a 4-1 victory from the first leg match played at the Moruleng Stadium, near Sun City two weeks ago last Sunday.
The team is in camp with 20 players, but is without striker Bongani Ndulula of Orlando Pirates, who scored all four goals in the last match. Other players who are travelling to Malawi include the likes of Doctor Mampuru, Philani Kwela and Lucky Nguzana who were part of the South African Under 20 team (Amajita) that competed in the 17th Orange African Under 20 Youth Championship that is currently underway at the Dobsonville Stadium. Kwela was the captain of that team, while Mampuru is the captain of the Under 23 side.
“We have a good mix of players, and it’s wonderful to know they have been keeping busy and that is what we always preach that our boys must play regularly. Unfortunately we don’t have Ndulula with us as his team will be using him while we are away, but we are not discouraged. I believe the boys we have in camp are more than capable of coming back with a positive result. We also have new players in the squad and that is good for increasing the pool of players for the National Under 23 team. We are expecting hot conditions in Malawi, and that might work against the team but we will be ready for the clash. We have been concentrating on the tactical formation of the team so that when we get to Malawi we continue where we left off in our last match. I am confident we will return victorious,” said Mashaba.
Another familiar face that will not be in Lillongwe is assistant coach David Notoane, due to family commitments. Notoane’s place for this match has been taken by Mandla Ncikiza, who is the Development Coach at Lamontville Golden Arrows.
The Under 23 squad departs for Malawi at 10h00 and will train at the match venue upon arrival.
They return to South Africa on Sunday, a day after the match.
The tenth edition of the All Africa Games will take place from 3-18 September 2011 in Maputo, Mozambique.
Here is the full SA U23 squad to face Malawi: