Saturday, March 19, 2011

U20 finals can boost South Africa

y Ed Aarons
BBC Sport, Johannesburg

South African FA chief Kirsten Nematandani
If we'd missed this chance, another four-year cycle would have been lost to our young players - which would have meant trouble for the seniors in 2014 and 2018
FA chief Kirsten Nematandani
South African FA President Kirsten Nematandani has no doubt that his nation will successfully host next month's African Youth Championship.
The Confederation of African Football chose South Africa this week after withdrawing the tournament from Libya because of its political problems.
The U20 finals will now take place between 17 April and 2 May.
"We are still working on (venues) because we have several interested parties," he told BBC Sport.
"But we must really thank the decision-makers at Caf for thinking of us.
"I understand that there were several countries who were interested but luckily they chose us."
Having not only hosted last year's World Cup finals, the first on African soil, South Africa also staged the African Womens Championship late last year.
"I must say it again confirms the confidence the continent has in South Africa after hosting the World Cup last year," Nematandani added.
"I have no doubt we will be ready - we have proven beyond reasonable doubt in the past that we are capable of hosting such a major event."
"It's not long ago that we hosted the African Womens Championship and Caf are on record saying how pleased they were with that."
Eight sides will compete at the two-week competition, with South Africa's under-20 team drafted in to replace their Libyan counterparts despite being knocked out in the qualifiers by neighbours Lesotho.
All four semi-finalists will go on to represent Africa at July's under 20 World Cup in Colombia and Nematandani admitted that it is vital that South Africa make the most of their second bite of the cherry.
"We've now been given a second lease of life and you cannot miss such an opportunity. We need to be amongst the top four that goes through to the world championship," he said.
"If we miss this chance, then that means another cycle of four years will be lost to our young players - which could mean trouble for the senior national team in 2014 and 2018.
"This is an opportunity to expose those kids to a high level of competition at Caf and Fifa level."

                     VIA BBC

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