DOHA - The management of the South African Under-23 national side hope that the $100 000 (about R720 000) first prize will spur their team to do well in the Qatar Youth Football Tournament, which got under way here late yesterday.
Barney Kujane, the team's project director, pictured, praised the Football Association of Qatar yesterday for introducing cash prizes for the top three countries.
Runners-up will get $80000 (about R577000) and the third-placed country will take home $60 000. There will also be individual prizes for the top goalscorer, best player of the tournament and winner of the fair play award.
Kujane said they spent R1,3 million to travel to the tournament, which South Africa is using to prepare it for the second round of the Beijing Olympics qualifiers and the start of the All Africa Games qualifiers.
"We are delighted that the organisers have decided to introduce cash prizes for the participating countries and individual awards. It will serve as a motivation for the youngsters that we brought along here.
"This is a huge bonus for the countries who are from far, like us."
South Africa resume their Olympic campaign against Uganda at Olympia Park stadium in Rustenburg on February 7. The following month they will play the winner between Zimbabwe and Mozambique in their opening All Africa Games qualifier.
Nakedi Lekota, South African Football Association national executive committee member, said they were delighted with the progress of the Under-23s in their quest to qualify for the two events.
The finals of the All Africa Games will take place in Algiers, Algeria, in August.
"As Safa, we are doing our utmost best in terms of offering the Under-23s the best possible support to ensure that we qualify for both the Olympics in China next year and All Africa Games in Algeria later this year," said Lekota.
Meanwhile, South Korea have withdrawn from Group B, leaving Egypt, Belarus and Bahrain. Group A is Qatar, South Africa, Japan and United Arab Emirates.
lRamatsiyi Moholoa is in Qatar as a guest of Safa and Sasol.