South Africa’s national Under-23 team, currently taking part in the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament in Egypt, says all the players are available for Friday’s third place play-off against Ghana.
A win in this tie will guarantee South Africa the only remaining ticket to next year’s Tokyo Summer Olympic Games.
There was a concern that after losing 3-0 to hosts Egypt in the semi-final, some players especially the European based stars like Luther Singh and Lyle Foster could return to their countries.
But there’s since been confirmation that they will be available for selection on Friday against Ghana where the winner will join Egypt and Ivory Coast in qualifying for the Olympics next year in Tokyo, Japan.
SA U23 head coach David Notoane says Friday afternoon’s game is all about qualification. SA have lost two of their last three matches played at this venue and both to the hosts. But Notoane is hoping that they will be third time lucky on Friday against the Black Meteors.
The first goal against Egypt was a controversially penalty which was awarded by the referee despite Thendo Mukumela having been clearly outside the box. But the other two goals were mistakes by SA players and this was end the of the clean sheets for the team in this tournament. Notoane is hoping that his boys have learnt from their mistakes.
In four matches in this tournament, SA has only scored one goal and that’s not good enough for a team that is looking to qualify for the Olympics.
Notoane knows that his team will have to be better in the final third on Friday if they are to achieve their goal.
In 2017, SA captain Tercious Malepe led Amajita to the FIFA U20 World Cup in South Korea, on Friday he will be looking to return to Asia but this time to book a ticket to Japan. – Report by Velile Mnyandu