Safa botch up Amajimbos Colombia trip bookings

In another administrative mess, the South African Football Association (Safa) has botched up the bookings for the SA Under-17’s trip to Colombia.

The team was supposed to have left Mzansi on Saturday, but visas had not been done. This resulted in a situation where the tickets could not be refunded. It also meant that the national association was forced to reschedule.

They then rescheduled to leave on Tuesday, but the squad and the officials were still in camp on Tuesday. The latest from the team is that they will now leave on Friday (April 19).

Team could not leave on rescheduled date

Reports reaching Sunday World are that parents went to the airport to bid their kids a farewell. However, the players and the team delegation were nowhere to be seen. The players were still stuck at the Safa Technical Centre in Fun Valley. 

Adding to the crisis and the confusion is that the match dates have been moved to April 19 and 21. A Safa official said that they have negotiated with their Colombian counterparts. He added that the match dates will be moved to accommodate Amajimbos’ late arrival.

The team reported for camp on April 10 and was expected to depart for Colombia on Saturday (April 13). This because the initial dates for the matches were pencilled for Wednesday (April 17) and Saturday (April 20). New dates are now being negotiated. 

Special team identified in 2023

They will play two international friendly matches as they continue with preparations for the upcoming Cosafa Under-17 Championships and the 2025 Afcon qualifiers. This generation of Amajimbos was identified in 2023. It was done through the U-15 Fifa-Safa Talent Development Scheme (TDS). Also through the Interprovincial Tournament, the SA National Schools Championships, and the recently completed Bayhill Premier Cup in Cape Town.

The team participated in a Three-Nations TDS Tournament in Rabat, Morocco, in early December 2023. There they played against Cote d’Ivoire and the North African hosts. They lost 4-2 to the West Africans. In the same tournament they then beat the North Africans 3-1, meeting the Technical Team’s objectives.

Amajimbos head coach Vela Khumalo told the Safa website that the two friendly matches against Colombia are vital. They set the right technical trajectory for exposing the squad to South American opposition. This is a different tactical environment and physical challenges, he said.

Align team with Safa Vision 2030

“The plan is to increase the players’ average international caps to between five and nine caps by December 2024. To also accelerate game time, and set the technical-tactical foundation in line with the Safa Vision 2030,” he was quoted as saying.

“For this Colombia project, we have selected a group of 21 players that we want to have a look at from our last encounter in Morocco.

“Strategically, the selection aims to foster continuity and stabilise key tactical elements. Also refine our national playing concept as we prepare for the battles ahead,” the coach added.

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