The Burger King-sponsored South African Men’s u20 National Team (Amajita) faces Senegal in the second match of the CAF u20 Africa Cup of Nations on Thursday, 2 March 2017.
The Group B clash takes place at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola, Zambia.
The match will kickoff at 6pm and will be live on SuperSport 9.
The South Africans are still in a celebratory mood following a convincing 3-1 win over Cameroon in their opening match of the 2017 edition of the tournament on Monday, 27 February 2017.
Amajita striker Luther Singh was the star of the show as he scored a hat trick and walked away with the Man of the Match award.
The Portugal-based player was the top goal scorer at the COSAFA Cup last year in Rustenburg (where South Africa fell in the final against Zambia), and seems to be providing solutions to South Africa’s scoring challenges.
SAFA Media sat down with the player after the victory over Cameroon to understand what makes him tick, and how he has managed to touch the hearts of so many South Africans in such a short space of time.
Namhla Mphelo: Thank you for your time, a great victory for Amajita last night. What was the inspiration behind the goals you scored last night?
Luther Singh: I want to thank the team for the performance we put up last night, had it not been for the team effort I would not have scored the goals I did. (Sibongakonke) Mbatha did some great work in ensuring we got the set piece, and the penalty was something we had worked on at training. My third goal was a great counter attack and (Itumeleng) Shopane managed to give me the all-important pass, which I converted. We were also encouraged by our solid defence, which made things easy for us. Although we conceded early, we managed to regroup quickly and stayed focused until the end to get the crucial win.
Who is Luther Singh? Where do you come from?
I am a simple guy, born and raised in Noordgesig, Johannesburg. When I was about 10 years old I played for a local team called Nazreen F.C, where I realized I had the love of the game. My family then moved to Florida (Johannesburg) where I continued to play. One Sunday Farouk Khan (football analyst and owner of Stars of Africa Academy) came to watch us play. I will never forget that day – I was 11-years-old and Farouk approached my parents saying he wanted me to join his academy. I believe I was the luckiest 11 year old boy in the world. I moved to the academy and at the age of 14 I went to Brazil to get some international experience. Three years later I joined my first professional club, Gais in Sweden, where I gained tremendous experience and my game grew. Earlier this year, I moved to Portugal where I am currently playing for Sporting Braga B.
Tell us about life that side, the quality of football and how you have managed to survive away from home?
I have played in two different leagues in Europe and I believe there is a good brand of football out there. My current club has players from all over the world, so there are a lot of skillful players. My teammates are highly technical – just like myself – so I believe the club’s style of play suits me very much. Working outside your own country is never an easy thing but one needs to always remember why they have left their country of origin. I have survived because I know what my priorities are – I am playing for my family, my country and to make a name for myself. Football is a job and I am grateful that I have been able to see the world because of the beautiful game while I am also able to provide for my family.
Amajita play some very attractive football, what keeps everyone going?
Our cohesion does not start on match day. We have become a family over the past few months. The players are all equal – no one thinks they are bigger than the other or even bigger than the game. We are always together, therefore we share a lot – like jokes, advices about football, mostly tactics and life in general. But when it is time to work we work very hard. The technical team and support staff also do a great job in keeping us united, on and off the field. We have prepared well for this AFCON and we hope the results will keep showing our unity and the hard work we have put in.
You guys are sitting top of Group B in the CAF U20 AFCON, what is the teams’ ambition?
The main aim is to qualify for the FIFA u20 World Cup in Japan later this year, but for now the focus is making it to the semi finals – and for that to happen we have to play our hearts out against Senegal and Sudan in our remaining group stage matches. We started very well and we are excited that we are top of the group, but we know there is still a lot of hard work to be done to reach our destination. Personally, I would like to score more goals, and also create scoring opportunities for my teammates so we can win games – and in the process market South African football because there is a lot of talent in our country.
You face another tough customer in Senegal on Thursday, and already there is a lot of expectation from you after your performance last night, so how do you stay focused?
I am a footballer and this is my job. Before a match I normally speak to my mentor, he is excellent in always motivating me and reminding me of my capabilities. I also like to talk to my teammates and plot some strategies against the opponents and when the plan works out, it shows in our celebrations. Playing Senegal will be another match where we will play according to the technical team’s instructions, it will not be an easy match but we will give our all. It was important to get a positive start in the tournament because that gives us more confidence going forward, and we are all aware that with another win on Thursday we are almost home and dry for the semifinal – so we can’t let it slip now. We are so looking forward to that match. We would also like to thank all the South Africans for the messages of support, remember we are not representing ourselves here but the entire country and we will do the best we can to make them proud.
This article was sourced from the SAFA website.