Usuthu’s Mabiliso helps SA qualify for U20 AFCON

AmaZulu FC left-back Sibusiso Mabiliso played an important role in helping South Africa qualify for the 2019 CAF Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals.

Nicknamed Amajita, South Africa beat Malawi 2-0 on Saturday in an away third round second-leg encounter.

As a result, Amajita booked their place in next year’s biennial continental show piece after winning the tie 2-0 on aggregate.

Mabiliso, 19, helped Amajita keep a clean sheet in an encounter which was played at the Bingu National Stadium in the Malawian city of Lilongwe.

The first-leg match ended in a goalless stalemate with Mabiliso playing the full 90 minutes at the Moruleng Stadium in North West Province almost two weeks ago.

The top four national teams at the next year’s U20 AFCON tournament will represent Africa in the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup tournament, will be decided.

On Tuesday, Amajita head coach Thabo Senong praised Mabiliso and his team-mates for working hard during the qualifying campaign.

“I’d like to say well done to the boys and the supporting staff for this hard fought for wonderful result. Everybody worked so hard in ensuring that Amajita qualifies for the Niger Afcon edition,” Senong told SAFA’s official website.

“When we reported for camp on July 6th, we knew that our players were going to peak in the second leg because most of them had come from an off season leading up to our preparations for the third and final round.

“They were at 60% when we played Malawi in Rustenburg, and now they were around 90%. I’m very happy with that. They gave superb performance,” he added.

Asked what was his game plan for this encounter, leading up to this crucial second leg, Senong said: “We told our boys that as long as we do not concede, we’ll be closer to our dream of qualifying for next year’s Afcon U-20 tournament.

“We also highlighted that in our position play, we need to make sure that we create as many scoring chances as possible, while also working really had to convert as many as we could. We did that.

“With that said. We’ve performed really well together as a team. This is something positive to look at with regards to football development in our country. We now have a big task at hand which is getting ready the national Under-20s for next year’s Niger continental tournament.”

The 2019 U20 AFCON finals will take place in Niger from 24 February to March 12.

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