Teboho Mokoena in action against Ivory coast in the Africa Under 23 Cup of Nations in Egypt. Picture: REUTERS/MOHAMED ABD EL GHANY
Teboho Mokoena in action against Ivory coast in the Africa Under 23 Cup of Nations in Egypt. Picture: REUTERS/MOHAMED ABD EL GHANY

David Notoane has revealed that Teboho Mokoena was not on free-kick duty against the Ivory Coast but nevertheless stepped up to score a brilliant winner from 35m to secure a precious 1-0 victory in their Africa Under-23 Cup of Nations Group B clash on Tuesday.

The victory propelled SA to the top of the pool. A point against Nigeria on Friday will secure a semifinal berth as they hunt their ultimate goal — qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The game had been deadlocked until the 79th minute after both sides spurned chances‚ before Mokoena stepped up and launched a fierce free-kick into the top corner.

“We have very talented players‚ Luther Singh has good technique‚ Sipho Mbule has good technique on free-kicks. And of course‚ Kobamela Kodisang‚” Notoane said.

“But Mokoena … when a player feels‚ when he has that mojo‚ that maybe it is the one for him‚ you withdraw as a coach. But of course‚ if it didn’t work out‚ you go back and you analyse and find out what happened. We have to be flexible.

“We prepare‚ we do set-plays in training‚ we decide who kicks and who goes where. But sometimes you have to give the players the opportunity to react to how they see the game.”

Notoane felt his side should have been in front before that‚ and they almost paid for some wastefulness in front of goal.

“We are happy to win‚ to get the first three points in the tournament in a very tough match against a very good opponent‚” he said.

“It was a tactical game‚ physical game‚ so at the end of the day it was going to take a special moment to determine the result."

SA need to finish in the top three at the tournament to seal a place for the Olympic Games‚ which would follow previous appearances for the side in 2000 and 2016.