South Africa Under-19 head coach Lawrence Mahatlane will not be underestimating the challenge posed by their group stage opponents, following the release of the schedule for 2020 Under-19 World Cup to be held in South Africa early next year.
The host nation has been drawn in Group D alongside Afghanistan, Canada and the United Arab Emirates in the 24-day tournament that will take place from 17 January to 9 February with Benoni, Potchefstroom, Kimberley and Bloemfontein named as host cities for the 16 teams.
South Africa will go up against Afghanistan in the opening match at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley on Friday, 17 January, followed by clashes against Canada at the JB Marks Oval in Potchefstroom and the UAE at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein. Entry will be free for all spectators.
Upon the confirmation of the groups and fixtures, Mahatlane said his squad is looking forward to getting the tournament underway and points out the competitiveness of their group. He singles out their first opponents.
‘This group is going to be a great test for the squad, playing in a home World Cup in front of our loved ones, we will be up for it. It’s going to be an unforgettable moment in these young gentlemen’s careers and I just want them to grab this opportunity with both hands,’ said Mahatlane.
‘We played Afghanistan earlier this year in India, where we came out on top in two tough contests, so we know they will be up for this opening match and we have to be ready. The conditions in Kimberley, with the heat, will suit their players a bit more but that’s just one of the challenges we must overcome to reach our goals.
‘Canada and the UAE, who both won their divisions to qualify, play similarly to the sub-continent sides, so we will be wary of all three sides but also confident of achieving our targets if we do the basic things right. We are excited to get started and see these youngsters shine on the world stage.’
Defending champions, India, are in Group A with New Zealand, Sri Lanka and debutants, Japan. While the competition’s other first-timers, Nigeria, find themselves in a group including three past winners, England, Australia and the West Indies. Group C has the two-time champion, Pakistan, who will face Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and the final team to book their spot in the global showpiece, Scotland.
The top two teams from each group will compete in the Super League before the semi-finals and final while the rest of the teams will take part in the Plate championship.
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