Thabo Senong Calls for Mini-World Cup

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar February 18, 2019 19:59

Thabo Senong Calls for Mini-World Cup

By Satish Sekar in Niamey © Satish Sekar (February 15th 2019)

“Just standard friendlies will never serve as good preparations for the World Cup. That’s my opinion,” says Thabo Senong, coach of South Africa’s Under-20 Team.

Novel Idea

South Africa’s coach dismissed conventional friendlies as he seeks to prepare for the Under-20 World Cup in Poland. He called for the African teams and maybe two others to get together for a mini-tournament – a mini World Cup instead. So will it happen?

“Well I’m not sure, but for now, it’s just to sit down with all the four coaches that have qualified their teams to the World Cup,” Senong told me exclusively. “We need to discuss. We need to share ideas.”

He expanded on his idea. “We need to make a mini tournament, three nations, or four nations, even include other international teams if possible, so that we give our boys a little tournament before a tournament, because playing for the World Cup, when you prepare, you must reproduce what’s going to happen at the World Cup, you know,” he said.

“Play a game, recover two days, prepare for another one, so that’s what we need.

“Just standard friendlies will never serve as good preparations for the World Cup. That’s my opinion.”

“It’s the competition itself, because players need to get used to tough competitions before they get exposed to this kind of World Cup”: Senong

How it Works

“It doesn’t matter really because obviously it will be summer during the World Cup in Poland, mid-May, then also we can have the tournament, the mini-tournament, whether in Africa, or whether in Europe, it doesn’t really matter, but what matters is the kind of opposition that will be engaged,” he says.

“As I said, it’s a win, win situation because, the European teams will also be happy to come down to Africa to come and play here, because they also want to come and test their players out of their comfort zones”: Senong

Win Win

Senong sees clear advantages, both for the African teams and European ones. He believes that European teams would want to come to Africa.

“As I said, it’s a win, win situation because, the European teams will also be happy to come down to Africa to come and play here, because they also want to come and test their players out of their comfort zones, and we all know that European people love visiting Africa as a continent and also for tourism reasons, so hence we say we have to strike a 50/50 agreement to say, let’s engage,” Senong explained.

 

“We just have to remain positive” : Senong

Challenges

Senong recognises that there are challenges, such as getting players released. “Well, it’s a slight challenge, but once we get back in our respective countries, back to office, then we’ll sit down with or authorities, engage those clubs, discuss programmes, and possibly a synergy or an agreement can be reached, but we are still positive that if we sell the idea of the importance of young players playing at international tournaments, surely the clubs will co-operate,” Senong says.

The four coaches of the teams that reached the last four, thereby qualifying for the World Cup in May will find out the groups that they will be in a few days when the draw is made in the host country, Poland. They will all have to be consulted about Senong’s idea. If they approve it, their respective federations will take it up and try to ensure that it happens.

“We just have to remain positive. But as I said, you need to understand all stakeholders are involved and we need to respect all stakeholders involved and players belong to football clubs, so it’s always important to sit down with them.

“We need to send them our programmes, our preparation programmes, competition programme; sit down and then have common agreements, so as I said, we need to sit down and find agreements that we can make together.”

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar February 18, 2019 19:59

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