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Headache for Notoane as he picks his Tokyo squad

Overseas-based stars may not even make the Games

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
David Notoane (Coach) during the South African Olympic Soccer Team media briefing.
David Notoane (Coach) during the South African Olympic Soccer Team media briefing.
Image: Lee Warren

SA Under-23 coach David Notoane has laid bare the difficulty of preparing for the Olympics without guarantees that some of his key overseas-based players will be released by their clubs.

In a media conference at Safa House yesterday, Notoane named a 25-member squad to face Egypt in a friendly double-header billed for Cairo on June 10 and 13. A number of instrumental European-based players such as Siphephelo Sithole, Gift Links and Khanya Leshabela were notable omissions.

Notoane is not sure if some of these players will be available for the Games, from July 23 till August 8 in Tokyo, Japan, as their clubs are reluctant to allow them to be with the national team, hence their exclusion. 

“It’s been a very difficult week... once we’d confirmed the trip to Egypt because now you’ve got to ask yourself key questions like if I know Sithole, for example, isn’t at this stage a hundred percent available, do I take him now through this camp? Or do I start to prepare for the eventuality where his club will say we’re not going to release him?’’ Notoane asked.

“So in this camp, we went for a balancing act of saying let’s prepare for what could be at the end but also for those who’re available, we carry them with us and try to continue with our preparations.’’

Even so, the Olympic side's trainer revealed they had not stopped engaging with the clubs in Europe to release the players for the Games, despite them having confirmed their unwillingness to do so.

“We’ve had negotiations and we continue to have negotiations with the teams of our foreign-based players in terms of the availability of players,’’ said Notoane.

“The Olympics are not on the Fifa calendar, so clubs are not compelled to release the players. So, [with] Percy Tau [Brighton & Hove Albion], Sithole [Belenenses], Kgaogelo Chauke [Southampton], Khanya Leshabela [Leicester City] and Gift Links [Aarhus] specifically, there’s ongoing engagements with their clubs, who’ve rendered them unavailable for the Olympics for various reasons.’’

Full squad for Egypt friendlies

Goalkeepers: Mondli Mpoto, Lincoln Vyver, Sifiso Mlungwana.

Defenders: Tercious Malepe, Katlego Mohamme, Thendo Mukumela, Luke Fleurs, Bongani Sam, Keanu Cupido, Kamogelo Mahlangu, Reeve Frosler.

Midfielders: Luke Le Roux, Thabo Cele, Goodman Mosele, Athenkosi Dlala, Grant Margeman, Kobamelo Kodisang, Nkosingiphile Ngcobo, Rowan Human, Kamohelo Mahlatsi.

Forwards: Fagrie Lakay, Luther Singh, Keletso Makgalwa, Lyle Foster, Liam Jordan.

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