SA Under-23s could be left stranded pre-Olympics friendlies

Head coach of the South African Olympic Team, David Notoane.
Head coach of the South African Olympic Team, David Notoane.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

South Africa have yet to find a replacement team for the Olympic Games-bound under-23s to play against next month with time now beginning to run out if they are to secure the right standard of opponent.

South African Football Association (Safa) sources have confirmed that the under-23s do not yet have an opponent for the next international window‚ where they could fit in at least two matches between March 25 to April 1.

This puts in jeopardy preparations for the Olympic Games where South Africa’s men have qualified for a second successive tournament.

South Africa’s under-23 team were due to travel to Japan to play a friendly international next month but pulled out earlier this month because of fears over the coronavirus outbreak.

David Notoane’s team were to take on their hosts at Sanga on Friday‚ March 27 in what would have been an ideal dress rehearsal for their return to Japan to compete in the men’s Olympic football tournament from July 23 to August 8.

Japan announced in late December the friendly against South Africa and a second game with the Ivory Coast in Fukuoka on Monday‚ March 30.

There has been no word from the Ivorians about whether they intend to go ahead with the match.

Last week‚ coach David Notoane named a preliminary list of 78 potential players‚ who will eventually be whittled down to a final 22. Notoane’s squad includes eight goalkeepers‚ 27 defenders‚ 24 midfielders and 19 strikers.