The South African national U23 men’s coach David Notoane says their AFCON qualifier against Zimbabwe is a defining moment for this current group as they look forward to the primary goal of going to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan next year.

The SA U23’s will play Zimbabwe in a third and final round, first leg qualifier on Friday at Orlando Stadium (Kick-off at 19:00) with the second leg scheduled for Harare on Tuesday.

Notoane says Banyana Banyana’s exit in the Olympic qualifiers has put them under pressure to deliver.

To reach the Olympics next year, the SA U23’s will need to qualify for Egypt in November and finish in the top three in that tournament and that would confirm their place in that tournament.

Zimbabwe beat Mozambique in the previous round, Notoane says it hasn’t been easy to source information on their opponents but trusts his star-studded side to go through.

The newly appointed Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki was part of the technical team in Rio 2016 as part of Owen Da Gama’s assistants with Thabo Senong. Notoane says the latest developments augur well for the national teams including his U23 side.

This is arguably one of the best U23 teams that has been assembled here after Shakes Mashaba’s Sydney 2000 team of Benni McCarthy, Quinton Fortune, Steve Lekoelea, Jabu Pule (Mahlangu), Matthew Booth and many more.

Asked about lessons to learn from Banyana’s exit at the hands of Botswana, Notoane focuses on managing a two-legged game. Report by Velile Mnyandu