The South African Men’s Under-20 National Team (Amajita) has settled in well at their base in Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso – the first of four on their West Africa tour. Amajita are in this part of the continent to play four international friendly matches in preparation for a crucial 2015 African Youth Championships qualifier against Cameroon next month (Saturday, 16 August) in Yaounde. The South Africans travelled for just over three hours to Nairobi to catch a connecting flight to Mali.
After a five-hour wait at the airport they flew for six and a half hours to Bamako, Mali and spent the night there. The next morning they took an hour’s flight to Ouagadougou to kick-start their preparations. “I must admit it was a very taxing travel but that is exactly what I had in mind when we planned this. The idea was to prepare them physically and mentally because I didn’t want any player complaining about anything when we travel to Cameroon – be it conditions or weather. I want them to focus on the job at hand,” said South African Under-20 head coach Shakes Mashaba.
“We chose Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal and Ivory Coast as opponents because this is an acclimatization tour. I wanted the boys to know what to expect when we return for Cameroon. This exercise will ready the boys for anything, even if things might not be the same. Also, the four opponents are similar in terms of style of play with Cameroon – the physique of their players, the robustness of their game and also to have a good feel of the playing fields. This trip addresses all of that,” says Mashaba. Amajita’s first match is against their Burkina Faso counterparts on Wednesday, 23 July at 18:00 local time in Ouagadougou (20:00 SA time). The match will be played at the Stade du 4 Août – a 35 000-seater multi-purpose stadium that hosted the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations final between South Africa and Egypt.
“The first match is always important and first impressions always last. I want the boys to exert themselves. I would also like to send our greatest gratitude to the four football associations for agreeing to accommodate us for our preparations and making this happen. Great thanks also to SAFA for giving our boys this opportunity to feel and see how it is like in the West,” added Mashaba.