Football took centre stage at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, a day before the official opening of the spectacle in the Japanese capital.
The South African national men’s under 23 team narrowly went down one-nil to the host nation Japan in a Group A match.
Ivory Coast was the only African Nation to get maximum points with a two-one win over Saudi Arabia. Egypt played to a goalless draw against Spain.
The South African side came into the fixture following a lack of preparation. David Notoane only had one training session with the players ahead of their opener against the host nation.
Three players had tested positive for COVID-19 – forcing the entire team into isolation.
However, they never looked like a team that had been severely disadvantaged. This is despite sustained pressure from Japan.
They were well contained by the South Africans with SuperSport United skipper, Ronwen Williams, making crucial saves in the process.
Defending deep in their half, South Africa allowed the Japanese to push further forward and it led to the only goal of the match when Takefusa Kubo struck in the 71st minute to seal the victory.
In the other Group A match, 2012 Olympic men’s football gold medallists, Mexico, have vowed to regain the title through a sterling performance. They thrashed France 4-1.
Alexis Vega broke the deadlock in the first half, while Sebastian Cordova, Uriel Antuna and Erick Aguirre added goals after half-time.
Ivory Coast opened their campaign with a two-one win over Saudi Arabia in their Group D match.
An Abdulelah Alamri own goal and a second-half strike from Franck Kessie bagged the West Africans maximum points.
Brazil and Germany produced a six-goal thriller at the Yokohama Stadium.
Everton star Richarlison scored a hat-trick in the first half, while substitute Pauolinho scored with seconds remaining to guarantee Brazil a convincing 4-2 win over Germany.
Germany were a better-organised side in the second half – scoring two goals in an attempt to launch a comeback.
And the New Zealand football team claimed its first-ever Olympic Games win. Chris Wood scored a late goal for a one-nil victory over South Korea in Kashima.