There are only three players – Darren Keet, Daylon Claasen and Kermit Erasmus – with Kamohelo Mokotjo dropped on the 11th hour because of injury, from that generation who made the cut for the Bafana Bafana side that face Morocco tonight.
It’s a side that coach Gordon Igesund described as the one which would form the core for major competitions in 2015 and 2018.
The Letsoaka-led Under-20s of 2009 highlight the good and bad of South African football. In the World Youth Championships in Egypt, they became the first national side to reach the knockout stages of a world tournament, losing out to eventual winners Ghana.
Their graduation to Under-23, and ultimately the senior team, stuttered when Shakes Mashaba took over the Under-20s after Letsoaka’s four-year tenure.
“After 2009, there were opportunities for them to go to the Under-23 and the national team but it never happened,” Letsoaka said.
“I started with those boys from Under-17 until Under-20, which means they had four years exposure to international football as a unit. Some took that opportunity. “Keet is playing abroad, as is Thulani Serero, Claasen and Mokotjo, but Sibusiso Mxoyana disappeared from football.”
Those who didn’t disappear made career moves that stunted their development, like Ramahlwe Mphahlele and Sibusiso Khumalo who moved to Mamelodi Sundowns only to warm the bench. It was the same for Sameehg Doutie, who struggled to break into Orlando Pirates.