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Amaglug-Glug Form Bodes Well For Future 22/12/03
The national under-23 team's convincing 4-1 win over Algeria in the Olympic qualifier bodes well for the future of South African soccer, says SASoccer365 journo Anthony McLennan.

The young guns were under a lot of pressure to win this game, and although Algeria are not one of the strongest teams around, the Amaglug-Glug team showed that they have the potential to reach the Olympic finals in Athens and do the country proud in that tournament.

There were a number of very impressive performances all around the park - starting from the back with the Wits number two, Jacob Mokhasi, who pulled off a couple of stunning saves to deny the north Africans any glimmer of hope of a comeback.

In the heart of defence Panathinaikos defender Nasief Morris had a great game - the former Santos hard man seemed to be in control of matters at all times - in fact at times it looked as if he was cruising and still had the ability to raise his game a gear or two if needed.

Morris is a very good reader of the game and also possesses a very good defensive technique. He played at right back in his days with the People's Team and it remains a mystery as to why he was not included in the Bafana Bafana squad for the African Cup of Nations.

The entire midfield was outstanding, especially wingers Joseph Makhanya and Gift Leremi, who tormented the opposition all afternoon with their pace and trickery.

Makhanya has been in scintillating form all season, keeping Buccaneers crowd favourite Steve Lekoelea on the bench. Despite his small frame, "Duku-Duku" is more than able to hold his own against stronger players due to his incredible amount of skill, speed and high work-rate.

Leremi is another class player, who, despite not having played regularly for Pirates this season, had a great game on the left wing, scoring an excellent goal when he ghosted past his marker and beat the Algerian keeper from the edge of the box with a powerful shot.

Leremi is actually right-footed, but showed that he is more than capable of sending in quality crosses with both feet, and at only 19 years of age, he certainly has a long and bright future ahead of him.

Captain Bennedict Vilakazi was once again his influential self in the middle of the park, showing again how useful he can be as a midfield goal-getter coming from deep positions when he combined with Makhanya to seal his team's victory with a well-taken goal.

Up-front debutant striker Ryan Botha, who plays for My-Pa in Finland, had a dream start to his under-23 career, scoring twice in the opening three minutes.

His first was a well-excecuted penalty with his left foot, while with his second goal he showed that his right foot is equally lethal when he held off the intentions of an Algerian defender before smashing the ball into the top corner.

He did fade a bit later in the game, but this was understandable due to the extremely hot conditions on Saturday.

Another newcomer to the team who also plies his trade in Europe, FC Copenhagen winger Elrio van Heerden, also impressed with his skill, pace and direct style of play, and looks set to become a valuable member of the team.

Coach Conti Kubheka, who would certainly have been a happy man on Saturday evening, will also be aware that he has a number of classy players to call upon who were not included in the squad, such as Mabhuti Khanyeza, Thando Mngomeni and Manqoba Ngwenya.

So the future of the national team looks very promising indeed, but it is now up to the Safa officials to ensure that they keep the nucleus of this squad together and nurture them in the correct way - after all the team which went to the Olympics in Sydney in 2000 also showed huge potential, but, for various reasons as a collective unit, they have not gone on to achieve what was expected of them at full international level.

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