Why SA face a difficult road to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup knockout stages
South Africa face a difficult road to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup knockout stages after being placed in the lowest Pot 4 for Sunday’s draw in Poland.
Amajita qualified as they finishing third at the recent African Under-20 Championships‚ and will appear at the global finals for a second successive tournament after also campaigning in South Korea two years ago.
The pots have been decided based on past performances over the last five Under-20 tournaments‚ bar hosts Poland‚ who automatically win a place in Pot 1.
Amajita know they will definitely avoid Japan‚ Panama‚ Norway‚ Qatar and Tahiti in the first round after those teams join them in Pot 4.
A worst-case scenario for Thabo Senong’s side could see them paired with France‚ South Korea and Argentina in the pool stages‚ which would be an incredibly difficult‚ though the draw procedures are vague on whether two teams from the same confederation can be drawn with one another‚ saying it is “generally” discouraged.
An easier route would be hosts Poland‚ New Zealand and Saudi Arabia‚ where Amajita should fancy their chances of progression.
The top two teams in each of the six pools advance to the Last 16‚ along with the four best third-place teams‚ giving extra opportunity to teams to progress.
This will be Amajita’s fourth appearance at the global tournament. They exited in the pool stages in 1997 but made the Last 16 in 2009.
Two years ago in Asia they lost to Japan and Italy‚ but drew with Uruguay and finished 21st out of 24 teams. The FIFA Under-20 World Cup pool stage draw:
Pot 1: Poland‚ Portugal‚ Uruguay‚ France‚ USA‚ Mexico
Pot 2: Mali‚ Nigeria‚ New Zealand‚ Colombia‚ South Korea‚ Italy
Pot 3: Saudi Arabia‚ Senegal‚ Argentina‚ Ecuador‚ Ukraine‚ Honduras
Pot 4: Japan‚ South Africa‚ Panama‚ Norway‚ Qatar‚ Tahiti