SOUTH Africa coach Thabo Senong will be hoping his boys go into today’s Mopani Copper Mines COSAFA U-20 final against minnows Lesotho with humility to avoid embarrassment.
It will be a David-versus-Goliath affair when the two southern neighbours meet in the final at Arthur Davies Stadium this afternoon.
South Africa edged guest nation Egypt 1-0 in a tense semi-final on Thursday while Lesotho beat favourites Uganda, another guest team at the tournament, 6-5 on penalties after the match ended 1-1.
A disappointed Egypt coach Mahmoud Sedky blamed poor officiating for his team’s elimination from the tournament.
“It was a good match but we played against 14 players on the pitch. I have respect for South Africa but you saw how the ref was,” said Sedky after the match. “If you know football, you know what I mean by 14 players on the pitch.”
That aside, Amajita head into today’s final hoping to lift their sixth title while Lesotho are bidding to win it for the first time.
The two nations have met severally with South Africa dominating the fixture, a record which Senong fears may haunt his boys should they underrate their opponents.
“We have played Lesotho on many occasions [but] the boys have to be humble. This is a different match. It cannot be won before it is played. So we don’t have to underrate the opponent,” cautioned Senong.
Lesotho coach Lesley Notsi says self-belief will be key as his players have no pressure going into the match.
Notsi, whose team has shocked many bookmakers who had predicted a South Africa-Uganda final, said he wants his players to enjoy the occasion.
“We have been studying South Africa. We will approach the game with self- belief, confidence and enjoy the moment. We don’t have pressure; we just need to believe in the youngsters,” said Notsi.
Today’s final will be preceded by the bronze medal match between Uganda and Egypt.