Kaizer Chiefs starlet Shabalala opens up on last shot at continental glory

Mduduzi Shabalala, SA U23, December 2022Backpagepix
  • SA U23 were held 1-1 by Congo last week
  • They are now in Congo trying to qualify for U23 Afcon
  • Shabalala talks about their intentions

WHAT HAPPENED? David Notoane’s was on Friday held 1-1 at Dobsonville Stadium by Congo Brazzaville in the bid to qualify for the Africa Under-23 Cup of Nations. The result placed them in a tricky position in this bid to make it to the tournament to be held by Morocco later this year.

They are now in Congo for the return leg which will be played on Monday, trying to reach the Morocco finals. Shabalala who played a blinder after coming on as a substitute in the first leg feels Monday’s match is their final last chance at playing in an age group major tournament.

WHAT SHABALALA SAID: "It's something that we have always wanted as players,” Shabalala told SABC Sport. “Firstly we won Cosafa but we couldn't go to Afcon due to Covid. Last year we played a tournament in Eswatini because we couldn't go to Afcon with the Under-20s. So, this is our last chance and I hope we can make it special for everyone.

“It's been tough, we are not happy with the results. We could have done better in terms of scoring and converting chances that we got in the first half. But here in Congo we are trying our level best to be ourselves.

“We need to convert our chances and defend very well and not allow them to have more ball possession. We need to win the game as early as possible when we get those chances.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: South Africa have qualified for the last two editions of the Under-23 Afcon and that paved way for them to reach the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games.

That puts pressure on the current Under-23 group not to break the growing qualification trend. They would be hard-pressed to continue with South Africa's participation in these age group tournaments, something that can become a tradition.

For Shabalala, after turning himself into a regular starter at Chiefs, he would be keen to carve his name in international football.

WHAT NEXT FOR SHABALALA? After coming on as a substitute in the first leg, the Chiefs star would be hoping to start in Monday's game and have a huge influence again.

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