South African Men’s Under-20 National Team (Amajita) forward Pule Maraisane says he will do anything in his power to see the team at the FIFA Under-20 Men’s World Cup tournament. Maraisane is in Port Elizabeth with the Amajita squad to continue preparations for the upcoming 19th Edition of the African Under-20 Championship, which will take place in Senegal from 8-22 March 2015. Amajita is in Group B alongside Ghana, Mali and Zambia, while Group A comprises hosts Senegal, Nigeria, Congo and Cote d’Ivoire.
Maraisane is one of the most experienced players in the squad having played and won in the COSAFA Cup in Lesotho, was in the qualifiers for CAF AYC and even took part in the Commonwealth Cup in Russia recently, which the South Africans won. ‘So far camp is going well here in PE, and you can see the guys are very focused which is a positive for all of us. The guys really want to make their names at the AYC and make the country proud. Our supporters expect a lot from us so we will go out there and show them what we are capable of. I think winning that tournament in Russia has really given the guys a boost ahead of the tournament even though the opposition will not be the same. We will go out there and do our best. Also I don’t expect a loss for this team because the winning mentality is now there,’ said Maraisane, who sat out training on Wednesday (18 February) due to a bout of flu. Maraisane, who plies his trade in Portugal, is not taking the opposition lightly at the tournament.
‘We will start with Ghana, a very strong team not easy to beat. If we prepare well and stay focused we will come out victorious. We have played Zambia before and defeated them but we shouldn’t go with that mentality because this is a new stage, different tournament and the stakes are higher. As for Mali we played them away. We know their style of play, and they are also very tall. We lost 1-0 but the game was not enjoyable because the pitch was soaked and we both couldn’t play good football,’ said Maraisane. The top four at the tournament automatically qualify for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup later this year in New Zealand. ‘That in itself is motivation enough for us young players to do well in Senegal. We have never been to a World Cup tournament so we want to write our own history by qualifying. I am confident that we will finish in the top four and I am already excited about playing at a World Cup, and I am even willing to die on the field to get to the World Cup,’ concluded Maraisane.
Maraisane will be hoping his name is among those that will be called when head coach Thabo Senong announces the final 21-man squad on Wednesday, 25 February in Johannesburg. Amajita have lined up a practice match against an Invitational Nelson Mandela Bay squad on Thursday afternoon at the Isaac Woolfson Stadium. There will also be a farewell match on Sunday against the Under-19 side of Chippa United at the same venue. Kick-off for both matches is 15:00. Entry is free.