The Burger King-sponsored South African U20 Men’s National Team (Amajita) had to come back from behind to defeat Costa Rica 2-1 in an international friendly match played on Monday afternoon (15 May) in Gapyeong, Korea Republic.
Both nations used the match as part of preparations for the 2017 FIFA u20 World Cup that kicks off on Saturday, 20 May and runs until 11 June.
With only five days before the start of the tournament, the win will come as a confidence booster for the South Africans.
A ninth minute set-piece goal from Yosin Salinas saw Amajita trailing against Costa Rica.
But the South Africans fought back and stuck to their game plan as Keletso Makgalwa, Sibongakonke Mbatha and Luther Singh created many chances in search of an equaliser.
Singh restored parity just seven minutes later from a beautifully taken free kick after Costa Rican goalkeeper Pinede, had committed a foul on Singh.
The second half was a very tight affair as both teams were looking for the winning goal, but it was Sibongakonke Mbatha who managed to get the important tap-in in the 62nd minute after Keletso Makgalwa had eliminated three defenders.
“We are very grateful to Costa Rica for the tough challenge, this was the kind of exercise we needed. We are still very slow, mainly because we are still working on our tactical approach and polishing up in some areas of our game. The players are getting back into their normal routine and we have almost adapted to the different time zones and climate. We can’t wait for the World Cup to kick off. I believe come Sunday (21 May) when we play our first match we will be ready,” said Amajita head coach Thabo Senong.
South Africa’s FIFA U20 World Cup campaign will kick off with a clash against Japan in Group D.
The match will take place at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, Korea Republic.
Kickoff is at 17h00 local time (10h00 SA Time).
South African U20 Starting XI: Mondli Mpoto; Thendo Mukumela; Malebogo Modise; Tercious Malepe (C); Sandile Mthethwa; Wiseman Meyiwa; Thabo Cele; Sibongakonke Mbatha (Phohlongo 88’); Luther Singh (Kodisang 66’); Grant Margeman; Keletso Makgalwa (Jordan 82’)
SA Subs: Sanele Tshabalala; Khulekani Kubheka; Shane Saralina; Sipho Mbule; Masilakhe Phohlongo; Kobamelo Kodisang; Liam
Costa Rica U20 Starting XI: Adonis Pinede (GK)(C); Ian Smith; Esteban Gonzalez; Yostin Salinas; Eduardo Juarez; Luis Hernandez (C); Jonatan Martinez; Jimmy Marin; Randall Leal; Diego Mesen; Gerson Torres.
Costa Rica Subs: Mario Sequeira; Brayan Segura; Juan Arguedas; Esteban Espinoza; Cristopher Nunez; Jostin Daly; Suhander Zuniga; Bernald Alfaro; Pablo Arboine; Barlon Sequeira.