Defensive lapses end SA's Olympic run after two games

Young Bafana allow France to come back three times, and win

Neville Khoza Journalist
Captain Tercious Malepe drops his head after France scored the winning goal.
Captain Tercious Malepe drops his head after France scored the winning goal.
Image: Molly Darlington

SA Under-23s coach David Notoane has urged his players to use their last match against Mexico on Wednesday to market themselves after a chaotic second successive loss against France yesterday put them on the brink of elimination.

Notoane’s boys can only qualify for the second round of the tournament if they beat Mexico by a heavy scoreline in their last fixture and hope Japan beat France.

Hosts Japan beat Mexico 2-1 to move to six points yesterday. France and Mexico are sitting on three points each, while SA are on zero after two defeats.

SA had no business losing the match against France yesterday, having taken the lead three times. But defensive lapses allowed the French to equalise shortly after each SA goal, on all instances through hat-trick hero Andre-Pierre Gignac. Teji Savanier scored a late winner for the French to send Notoane's side crashing out.

Kobamelo Kodisang, Evidence Mokgopa and Teboho Mokoena scored the goals for SA. 

“We have to be honest with ourselves, go to the last match and play for our pride,” Notoane told the media in a press conference after the match.

“We are here to try to get to the next round but also display a kind of football that SA players are capable of and market themselves on a global stage.

“We will go home with our heads held high with a win against Mexico.”

Notoane admitted that they should have done better in managing the game and blamed costly errors for the defeat.

“I think at the end it was the game of margins of errors. We made more mistakes in our defensive actions than France,” he said.

“They scored four, we scored three. But I’m proud of the boys for the efforts, the commitment and the quality of football that we are capable of.

“We came with attacking intent and we gave attacking intentions, as you saw. Sad as it is, the last one against Mexico is going to be difficult, but that’s football. What more can we say.”

Notoane also explained why they sat back in the opening match against Japan, where they lost 1-0, instead of showing the same attacking style as they did yesterday. 

“We didn’t risk burning ourselves out against Japan, and when we came to play against France we would have been left with nothing in our reserves. It was primarily to manage our energy levels and hoping to take a draw, which was not to be.

“Our plan was always to give good performances in the next two games, as you saw against France.”

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