The South African National Under-17 Men’s Team, Amajimbos threw away a two-goal lead to draw with Cote d’Ivoire 2-2 in their opening match of the CAF U-17 African Youth championships taking place here in Niamey, Niger on Monday afternoon. The South Africans had taken a first half lead through Sibongakonke Mbatha just before the break and doubled the lead in the 61st minute through a brilliant header by Khanyisa Mayo. But the Ivorians who won this tournament four years ago, came back from this setback to reduce the arrears in the 75th minute before completing an amazing turnaround in the 82nd minute.
Amajimbos’ next game is against Mali on 19 February and finishes the group stage matches with an encounter against Cameroon on 22 February. The South Africa/Cote d’Ivoire match started at a frantic pace in blazing weather conditions but it was Molefi Ntseki’s boys who threatened with their swift counter-attacks. It came as no surprise when a good build-up saw Mbatha ramming home a rebound to give the South Africans a precious first half lead.
Amajimbos kept probing the Ivorian defence and duly increased the lead when from a corner kick, Mayo, the son of former Bush Bucks and Kaizer Chiefs striker Patrick Mayo rose unchallenged in the box to nod the ball home. In a bid to preserve the lead, Ntseki made double substitution bringing in Wiseman Meyiwa and Liam Jordan for Reeve Frosler and Mbatha respectively. But the move backfired as the West Africans reduced the arrears moments later before claiming a priceless draw.