Under-20 World Cup: South Africa name Lyle Foster for finals




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South Africa under-20 striker Lyle Foster is on the books of French club Monaco

Uncertainty over the availability of striker Lyle Foster for South Africa at the Under-20 World Cup ended on Wednesday as he was named in the squad for the finals.

The imposing 18-year-old moved from Orlando Pirates to Monaco in January and made it onto the first team bench within two months of arrival.

However he is yet to make his debut for the Ligue 1 strugglers due to several niggling injures.

Those issues also curtailed his participation the under-20 team’s preparations, which have included a training camp in Saudi Arabia and Poland since the start of he month.

Despite the concerns he has made the final 21-man list with five players missing out.

Foster’s inclusion means there will be four foreign-based players in the team – Leicester City winger Thakgalo Leshabela, Ajax Amsterdam wide player Leo Thethani and Portugal-based speedster Kobamelo Kodisang, who plays for Sanjoanense.

The side was picked by coach Thabo Senong even though he left the camp last week to return to South Africa after the death of his mother.

The team, which qualified with a third-place finish at February’s Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations, has continued to train in Poland under assistant coach Helman Mkhalele, who was one of the heroes of South Africa’s 1996 Africa Cup of Nations triumph.

“This was not an easy process to go through given the fact that we had a very good list of talented players in our provisional squad,” Mkhalele told the South African Football Association website of the final selection process.

“We had constant engagements with our head coach during his selection process, and that enabled us to select what we regard as the best squad.”

Amajita, as the team are nicknamed, compete in Group F alongside Argentina, South Korea and Portugal and kick off their campaign against the highly fancied South Americans in Tychy on may 25.

“Our preparation camp was centred around assembling a squad which would be able to match our Group F opponents and possibly fight to progress into the knockout stages of the tournament,” Mkhalele added.

“This is going to require a whole lot of hard work. However, I believe that we have assembled a squad which has the right attitude and mindset to do just that,”

South Africa participate for a fourth time in the U-20 World Cup, and second in succession.

Kodisang and goalkeeper Khulekani Kubheka, who is the captain this time round, were in the squad in South Korea two years ago where South Africa finished last in Group D behind Uruguay, Italy and Japan.

South Africa squad:

Goalkeepers: Glen Baadjies (Mamelodi Sundowns), Khulekani Kubheka (Cape Umoya United), Kopano Thuntsane (Pele Pele FC)

Defenders: Keenan Abrahams (Ajax Cape Town), Givemore Khupe (Cape Umoya United), Fezile Gcaba (Pela Pele FC), S’busiso Mabiliso (AmaZulu), Molebogo Modise, Thabo Moloisane (both Mamelodi Sundowns), Keenan Phillips (Bidvest Wits)

Midfielders: Oswin Appollis (SuperSport United), Njabulo Blom (Kaizer Chiefs), Kobamelo Kodisang (Sanjoanense, Portugal), Luke le Roux (SuperSport United), Siphesihle Mkhize, Promise Mkhuma (both Mamelodi Sundowns), Luvuyo Phewa (Real Kings)

Forwards: Lyle Foster (Monaco, France), Thakgalo Leshabela (Leicester City, England), James Monyane (Pele Pele FC), Leo Thethani (Ajax Amsterdam, Netherlands)

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