National football team interim coach, Seephephe Matete, is hoping for tough opponents when the 2015 Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) Cup draw is conducted in Johannesburg today.
The tournament is set for South Africa’s North West Province from 17-31 May, with Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, the Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe set to fight for the silverware.
According to Matete, he intends to take a completely new team to the tournament which most nations have increasingly been using to groom new players for bigger tournaments such as the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and World Cup.
“We all know that a good number of the players who were in our national team last year have reached the wrong side of their careers and we have to start afresh. I am hoping to get most of the players from the under-20 side which did exceptionally well in the African Youth Championship qualifiers last year,” Matete said.
“The plan is have a young team and give it international exposure starting with the Cosafa tournament, as we build for future Afcon and World Cup qualifiers.
“Hopefully, we are going to get good opposition when the draw is conducted on Thursday,” Matete said.
Matete added he was already making preparations for the players’ camp ahead of two friendly matches next month.
“There are two Fifa dates for friendly matches in March and we would want to play two matches then as part of preparations for the Cosafa Cup,” said Matete.
“Unfortunately, we have not had a national under-23 team that would have helped prepare the players for the senior team, so a competition like Cosafa gives us that platform to give young players international exposure.”
However, Matete said he would also include a few experienced players to ensure the team remains very competitive.
“I know the fans still expect to see a competitive team, but the main aim will be to build a strong side for bigger international competitions.”
Lesotho lost 4-3 to South Africa in the third-place playoff in the 2013 edition of the competition held in Zambia. Likuena, as the national football team is affectionately known, finished ahead of Kenya, Swaziland and Botswana in their group to advance to the playoff stage.