U-23s hope to reach quarterfinals in third Olympics appearance

'We have to show that we are growing as a football country'

David Notoane, coach of South Africa during the 2019 U23 African Cup of Nations Qualifier South Africa training at the Orlando Stadium, Soweto.
David Notoane, coach of South Africa during the 2019 U23 African Cup of Nations Qualifier South Africa training at the Orlando Stadium, Soweto.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

The SA Under-23 team are out to make history by becoming the first team to reach the knockout stages of the Olympic Games.

SA has participated in two Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, in 2000, and in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Brazil in 2016.

However, they have failed to get out of their group in the Olympics, and they are hoping that it would be a third time lucky in their Olympic Games appearance in Tokyo, Japan.

The Young Bafana coach, David Notoane, hopes to succeed where former coaches Ephraim Mashaba (2000) and Owen da Gama (2016) failed.

Notoane and his charges will play their opening game in Group A against host nation Japan at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo today at 1pm.

“For South Africa to compete in the back-to-back Olympics means a lot. The plan is to build consistency of appearing at the Olympics, and we are starting to see that happening now. We are here in Tokyo and know that the Rio generation got knocked out in the group stages.

"We want to produce excellent performance in every game, but we must also produce results. Our target is to reach the quarterfinal and make history. We have to show that we are growing as a nation and as a football country," said Notoane.

The young Bafana must bring their A-game to get out of the group that consists of France and 2012 Olympic champions Mexico.

“Despite the challenges of Covid-19, we are grateful to compete at the Olympics at a time like this. We will see how the pandemic will affect us going forward. For now, we are focusing on the next game," added Notoane.

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