NATIONAL under-20 coach, Leslie Notši, says it is only through tough matches that his charges can acquire the necessary exposure to enable them to make the step up to the senior football team.
Notši said this in the wake of the recent Council of Southern Africa Football Association (COSAFA) Under-20 draw that saw Makoanyane XI being pitted in Group C alongside Namibia, Zimbabwe and Angola.
The regional tourney will be staged in Zambia from 6 to 16 December this year at the Arthur Davies, Levy Mwanawasa and Nkana stadiums.
The winners of each group will advance to the next stage along with the best-placed runner-up.
The group stage will be completed on December 12 and the semifinals will be staged at the Arthur Davies Stadium on 14 December.
The third-place play-off and the final will played at Levy Mwanawasa on 16 December.
Notši, who took Makoanyane XI to the African Championships in 2011, expressed confidence that his charges would rise to the occasion and advance to the semifinals.
“It is a tough group but also a fair draw for us,” Notši said.
“This is a development team and therefore we need competitive matches against tough opponents to assess how far we have come. Our players will get the exposure they will need going into the senior national team.”
The ex-Matlama goalkeeper and senior national team coach said he was impressed by his charges in training.
“We have a pool of players who have potential and we just need to do thorough preparations to ensure they are all in good shape before we leave for Zambia next month. It is not going to be easy to beat those powerhouses but I believe in my charges.
“The players have shown some positive signs ever since we started training on Mondays and Tuesdays. Their performance at the club level has also improved and I am impressed. We just need to take that and make them gel as a team.
“The stage has now been set so they should go out there with open minds, learn and return as better players whether they win or lose” he said.
Under 20 provisional squad:
Goalkeepers – Monaheng Ramalefane (Matlama), Kopano Silas (LCS)
Defenders – Liteboho Nkune (Bantu loaned to Majantja), Tanki Seoli (Sefothafotha), Kobeli Kuenene (Galaxy), Itumeleng Leche (Lioli), Rethabile Mokokoane (Matlama), Seeiso Lerotholi (Likhopo), Thabo Mphosi (Galaxy), Kopano Mohau (Majantja)
Midfielders- Batlang Mokhele (Lioli), Keletso Tlhaba (Majantja), Mokoteli Mohapi, Tebello Ntene (Kick4life), James Mothotjela (Likhopo)
Forwards – Khemisi Moteloa (Matlama), Thetso Phosholi (LCS), Tumelo Makha (Lioli), Ts’eliso Botsane (Sefothafotha), Thaane Mokoena (Likhopo), Seipati Makafane (Wits Juniors)