South African national U23 head coach, David Notoane, has praised coaches for giving youthful talent the much needed game time and trusting the, with regular spots in their starting line-ups.
Notoane was commenting on the arrival of the U23’s from Egypt earlier this week where they held one of their preparatory camps going to the all-important African Cup of Nations (AFCON) U23 tournament in the same country next month. Notoane’s team played a goalless draw in the training match and lost 1-0 in the international friendly against the hosts.
He says the trust in this young talent by the coaches is showing in their game and augurs well for the future.
The SA U23’s are in a tough group with defending champions Nigeria, Zambia and West African giants Ivory Coast.
Two teams qualify to the last four where the top three confirm a place to the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan next year. Notoane has reiterated his earlier statements that they want to win this eight nation continental tourney.
Notoane has also revealed that they are in negotiations with the Ghanaian Football Association to play a friendly closer to the tournament which takes place between eighth and 22nd of next month in Cairo. But a lot of factors will influence their preparations.
Player availability is something that is going to affect most of the teams which are taking part in this competition.
Already Zambia is struggling to convince some of its overseas based players’ clubs and the SA U23’s is not an exception but Notoane remains hopeful that something can be done.
Mamelodi Sundowns and SA U23 attacker Phakamani Mahlambi says this is also a second chance for him to play in an international tournament after missing out previously in the U20 World Cup and Olympics due to injuries.
He says this is also an important opportunity for some of the youngsters to impress at international level and get that much needed attention from European scouts.
Kaizer Chiefs left wing back Happy Mashiane was sidelined by a long term injury for close to seven months but Notoane included him on this trip as he wanted to check his state of readiness for the AFCON.
Mashiane who started playing in the senior team earlier this year, is hoping to make the 23-man squad to the tournament. – Report by Velile Mnyandu