Mdledle says U-23s will qualify
KAMPALA - South African under-23 national soccer side's defender, Innocent Mdledle, pictured, reckons the current team will deliver on their mandate to qualify for the 2008 Bejing Olympics finals.
Speaking after their goalless draw against Uganda in the return match at Nakivubo Stadium on Saturday, Mdledle said they were ready for the epic battle to be among the three countries to represent Africa in China.
The South Africans advanced to the group stages after winning the first leg match 2-0 at home on February 7 where striker Lerato Chabangu and midfielder Lance Davids scored the goals.
"We did extremely well by scoring more than one goal at home and did not concede. It was obvious that Uganda would be spitting fire on home soil," said Mdledle.
'Now that we are through to the group stages, we need to regroup because the real tournament starts. It's going to be war in the group stages because there are only three slots for Africa," said Mdledle.
Steve Komphela, the South African coach, said: "We worked hard, we did not play good football, but the good thing is that we are through to the group stages where it's not going to be easy."
The game got off to a flying start with the Ugandans, led by the hard-running Egypt-based striker Geoffrey Massa, giving the South Africans a torrid time.
The visitors, captained by Belgium-based Masilo Modubi this time around, gradually resorted to being ultra defensive as the deadly Massa and company were launching a series of attacks within a short space of time.
Credit must also go to goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, who made several superb saves to keep a clean slate.
Komphela and his technical staff made three changes, introducing Sibusiso Hadebe, Mkhanyiseli Siwahla and Bernard Parker for Bryce Moon, Erwin Isaacs and Chabangu respectively.
Two South Africans -Mdledle and Isaacs - were booked.
A handful of Ugandan supporters threw an assortment of missiles onto the pitch as they started leaving the stadium with about 10 minutes remaining.
The draw for the group stages, which are scheduled to start in the first weekend of June, will take place later this week.
lRamatsiyi Moholoa is in Uganda as a guest of Safa and Sasol