The National under-17 Coach Duncan Crowie named his 21-man squad which will do battle at the Africa Cup of Nations in Algeria from the 29th of April till the 19th of May. In the squad selected to do duty for the country, four come from the Brazilians namely Vincent Sithole, Thato Sibiya, Bennet Mokoena and Siyabonga Mabena. The latter recently grabbed the headlines when he made his senior debut for Mamelodi Sundowns in a win against Royal AM.
Mamelodi Sundowns Under 17 Coach Selekedi Mogale spoke about the quartet making the final squad and said “This is a big achievement for us to have four players in the team. Two of our players were in the COSAFA Team of the Tournament. We hope they can continue to make us and the country proud. Congratulations to Academy leadership, Academy Coaches, Residence staff, Club Management, and the whole club for the good work we put in”.
Amajimbos have been pitted in group B with the likes of Nigeria, Zambia, and Morocco and will play their opening game on the 30th of this month against the “Atlas Lions”.
“The group is a tough one, but I believe if the technical team plans accordingly and uses our strengths, we will come out of the group. This is a very good test for our boys and the country. The team must dig deep and perform versus Africa’s finest. There is no easy way around it. We must show our quality on this stage. I would love for us to win the AFCON, I do see us in the final, but let’s take it 1 game at a time and support them like they are playing a final in each group match”, stated Mogale when he weighed in his thoughts on the group and what are the chances for the Duncan Crowie led side.
The progress made by the academy has been fruitful and has seen a couple of players making their senior debut, the likes of Jerome Karelse, Ntando Nkosi, Siyanda Nyanga, Thando Buthelezi, and Cassius Mailula.
“It is great to have these players in the final squad going to the AFCON. We celebrate this achievement as a club. Vincent Sithole won the Most Promising Academy player at the club’s awards in January. Bennet Mokoena was in the COSAFA team of the tournament. Thato Sibiya is a promising left back and Siyabonga Mabena’s debut in the First team at the age of 16 is the cherry on top.”, described Mogale on what the quartet will contribute to the Amajimbos side.
Furthermore, Mogale spoke about how the academy has been producing players for the junior national teams, “In the same vein, we have had past academy graduates who have gone onto represent Junior National teams at AFCON and Junior World Cups. We need to keep them humble and work to make sure they reach their potential. We also have other special players within our academy who we might see at the U20 or U23 level. Talent matures differently, and other times it is a difference of opinions on their omission currently. Yes, we celebrate the 4 players, which hopefully inspires the rest, and we keep working hard to produce players for our club and country”.
Mamelodi Sundowns would like to wish the boys all the best as they will represent the country in Algeria.