Newly-signed SuperSport United defender Ayabulela Konqobe (formerly Magqwaka – he has changed his surname and is now using his father’s surname) is back with the South African Men’s Under-20 National Team (Amajita) as they prepare for the 2015 CAF Under-20 Championships. Konqobe was at loggerheads with his former club Ajax Cape Town and was suspended for a while.
As a result of that he missed Bafana Bafana and Amajita call-ups. But he recently moved to Matsatsantsa a Pitori and has found a new lease of life. He is currently in Port Elizabeth with the U-20 squad to prepare for the upcoming 2015 CAF African Youth Championship which will be held in Senegal from 8-22 March 2015. The South Africans are in Group B with Ghana, Mali and Zambia, while the other group has hosts Senegal, Nigeria, Congo and Cote d’Ivoire.
The semi-finalists will represent the African continent at the 2015 FIFA U-20 Men’s World Cup tournament scheduled for New Zealand in May. SAFA Media caught up with Konqobe at their training base in Port Elizabeth.
Matlhomola Morake: How are preparations going?
Ayabulela Konqobe: Preparations are going very well, we have been working very hard with the coaches and the entire team. Everybody knows their job and we are working on improving our weaknesses, and strengthening our strong points. We also have to work as a unit because there are sometimes new players when coming into camp. We have a preparation game tomorrow and hopefully it will help us to know how far we have come in terms of preparations.
MM: What are you expecting from your teammates regarding that match?
AK: I expect hard work for all of us and not take it as a friendly match but as a preparation game for where we are going. We are going to meet difficult opposition in Senegal because we are in a tough group, so we hope Chippa United gives us a competitive match to ready ourselves for the tournament.
MM: Having won the tournament in Russia, how much of a boost is that ahead of this upcoming tournament?
AK: It’s a very big boost to have won that tournament, in fact winning a match just gives you confidence and gives you that winning mentality to always want to win and strive for more. The Under-20s are a winning team – we have won the COSAFA and just recently the Commonwealth Cup in Russia, hopefully it will lead us to winning the AYC in Senegal.
MM: And how important is it to keep that winning momentum?
AK: It is vital because the more you win the more confidence you have and the more you start believing in yourself as a unit, and we would like to maintain that.
MM: On a personal level you have been out of the team and missed the tournament in Russia, it should be good to be back.
AK: It is always good be back in this team, as I said this is a winning team and I always want to be a part of it, and I am glad I am back in. I had some challenges but they are behind me now and I am just happy to be back and playing football.
MM: Was it frustrating being on the sidelines while the team was in action?
AK: Very much so especially when you know you would have been with them if it were not for the challenges, but I was happy the team was doing well and I guess that’s what mattered. Even though I was not part of the team for the tournament I knew my time would come and now it has arrived and I will use every opportunity I get to make the most of it.
Meanwhile, Amajita have completed preparations for their friendly match against the Under-19 squad of local PSL side Chippa United on Sunday, 22 February at the Isaac Wolfson Stadium in Port Elizabeth. Kick-off is at 15:00 and entry is free.