The South African national U-23 team registered its first win at the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament currently underway in Cairo, Egypt, when they beat Ivory Coast 1-0 in their second Group B game.
Playing at Al Salam stadium, the venue where their senior team lost to the Ivorians 1-0 at the AFCON in June, a stunning free-kick by Teboho Mokoena, one of the late arrivals in camp ensured this win.
SA is now on four points and a point clear at the top with a game against Nigeria still to come. Head coach David Notoane welcomed the win.
Nigeria also registered their first win in the second game in Group B, beating Zambia 3-1. The top three teams in this tournament qualify to the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan next year.
Notoane made four changes to the team that was held to a goalless draw by Zambia last weekend. Mokoena and his SuperSport United teammate Sipho Mbule and the two overseas based players, Luther Singh and Lyle Foster, started on the day. He says they were under pressure coming to this game to register a win.
SA plays Nigeria at the same venue on Friday night (20:00).
The scars are still visible on the Egyptians after Bafana knocked them out of the AFCON tournament on home soil in June.
The young Pharaohs have already qualified for the semi-final after winning their first two games in Group A and Notoane was asked if he would like to avoid meeting them.
SA could’ve easily won the game by three goals or four, Foster missed three sitters including hitting the crossbar.
Kobamelo Kodisang was also denied a clear penalty by the match officials. – Report by Velile Mnyandu