South Africa’s plans for the Fifa Under-17 World scheduled for Peru has been dismantled after the tournament was cancelled due to Covid-19.
Amajimbos coach Vela Khumalo and his technical team began preparing for the competition two years ago.
The plan was on course as the team managed to qualify for the Under-17 Afcon in Morocco after winning the Cosafa Cup last year. But the ongoing coronavirus which hit the entire world early last year led to Fifa cancelling the World Cup.
Amajimbos though, will take their full focus to the Under-17 starting next month.
Khumalo and his charges have assembled for camp in Johannesburg on Monday to prepare for the competition which will end on 12 February.
“In 2019 we brought in a squad of 14/15 year old players who would grow as a team for the World Cup. Our first year was not that great as the players had to learn what it is to represent your country and play outside their comfort zone,” Khumalo was quoted by Safa.net.
“We did not have the best Cosafa tournament in Malawi because the youngsters were overawed by the occasion. But last year it was a different story. We went on to win the tournament,’’ said Khumalo.
“This year our plan was to get one of the four spots at the Afcon and qualify for the World Cup, which has since been cancelled.”
The 2020 edition of the Cosafa Cup was the first time Amajimbos won the tournament since 2002 making it three Cosafa Cup titles.
However, there was drama at the competition after four teams were disqualified.
Botswana, Comoros Islands, Eswatini and Zimbabwe were all barred from the competing after it was found out they had over age players in their squads after MRI scans.
This forced the organisers to continue the tournament with only four teams, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi and Angola to battle it out in a round robin format, with the top two sides on the table set to qualify for the Afcon.
Khumalo’s troops qualified along with Zambia.
South Africa will be looking to take their momentum of the Cosafa tournament to the Afcon, where they will be making their fourth appearance at the competition.
Their best finish at the continental tournament was back in 2015 in Niger, where they finished as runners-up.
They subsequently qualified for the 2015 Under-17 World Cup hosted in Chile.