Grey College defender Khotatso Balipile has been picked to join South Africa’s team for the 2019 Cosafa Under-20 Championships.
The squad was announced by national coach Helman Mkhalele last week.
The championships take place in Lusaka from December 4-14‚ where SA will be seeking a hat-trick of titles.
Grey College director of football and former Bafana player, Ricardo Katza expressed excitement over Balipile’s inclusion in the squad, saying “He is one of the most hardworking players in the team and this call is beyond justified.”
In an interview with The Weekly, Katza noted this was the beginning of great things for the hardworking defender, adding his commitment and work ethic is something that stands out.
Katza said that the coach decided to call Balipile up speaks to the type of team he wants.
“When you look at the team and the players that have been called up for the championship, it speaks to the level of commitment the coach is seeking and Balipile fits in perfectly,” he pointed out.
Mkhalele replaces Thabo Senong‚ who led the side to the last two FIFA Under-20 World Cup tournaments‚ but is now in charge of the Lesotho national team.
Mkhalele is set to be assisted by another great former winger, Arthur Zwane‚ with renowned youth coach Shawn Bishop to act as analyst.
Most of the players from the Under-20s squad have now moved up to the national Under-23s.
The dates of the tournament have also restricted Mkhalele’s selection as any promising teenagers he might have hoped to pick from first-team squads in South Africa’s top two divisions are not available.
Instead, Mkhalele has gone for a younger group, with one eye on the 2021 World Cup‚ and that gives South Africans a fascinating glimpse into the next generation of potential national team players.
Kaizer Chiefs have supplied four players to the team‚ including striker a from the MultiChoice Diski Challenge side Rahim Milazi‚ midfielders Tshepo Myeni and Keletso Sifama‚ and 16-year-old goalkeeper Bontle Molefe‚ who was promoted to the first-team earlier this year.
Bidvest Wits also have four players – defender Athenkosi Mcaba who was previously part of Molefi Ntseki’s national Under-17 side that competed at the 2018 Cosafa championship in that age-group, goalkeeper Prince Cuwen‚ midfielders Lancaster Human and Keagan Mitchell‚ and striker Sinenjongo Mkiva.
Midfielder Mohamed Shahabodien of Farouk Khan’s Stars of Africa Academy is another exciting player to watch‚ while the selection of defender Balipile is an interesting development.
South Africa have been drawn in Group B and open their campaign against Mauritius on December 5. They will then face Madagascar three days later‚ before closing out their pool play against Lesotho on December 10.
The top team in each of the three pools advances to the semifinals along with the best-placed runner-up.
South Africa have lifted the title in the last two years when the likes of Lyle Foster‚ James Monyane‚ Luke le Roux and Nkosingiphile Ngcobo were all stars of the side.
South Africa squad:
Goalkeepers: Olwethu Mzimela (AmaZulu)‚ Prince Cuwen (Bidvest Wits)‚ Bontle Molefe (Kaizer Chiefs)
Defenders: Athenkosi Mcaba (Bidvest Wits)‚ Sabelo Phakathi (Maritzburg United)‚ Cassius Spandiel (Orlando Pirates)‚ Rivaldo Present (Ubuntu Cape Town)‚ Khotatso Balipile (Grey College)‚ Siyanda Msani (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Midfielders: Tshepo Myeni‚ Keletso Sifama (both Kaizer Chiefs)‚ Mohamed Shahabodien (Stars of Africa)‚ Vusimuzi Plamana (Ubuntu Cape Town)‚ Oswin Appollis (SuperSport United)‚ Lancaster Human‚ Keagan Mitchell (both Bidvest Wits)‚ Selaelo Rasebotja (School of Excellence)
Strikers: Rahim Milazi (Kaizer Chiefs)‚ Sinenjongo Mkiva (Bidvest Wits)‚ Keenan Bezuidenhout (Ubuntu Cape Town).