SA coach David Notoane could not hide his frustration after his side were on the receiving end of a shocking refereeing decision in their 3-0 Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations semifinal defeat to Egypt on Tuesday.
The game was finely balanced at 0-0 just before the hour mark‚ with SA creating the better chances‚ before Senegalese referee Daouda Gueye adjudged a handball from Thendo Mukumela to be inside the penalty box‚ when he was at least half a yard outside the area.
It was a game-changing moment that shifted the momentum‚ with Notoane’s frustration deepened by a foul on Kamohelo Mahlatsi with 10 minutes to go that was deemed outside the Egyptian area when the initial contact was made inside.
Notoane always cuts a dignified figure, and while he heaped praise on Egypt‚ he did not mince his words over the incidents.
“You saw what happened … 60th minute and a penalty. OK, we all saw it. I don’t want to take anything away from Egypt‚ but this is a big tournament‚” Notoane said.
“Someone mentioned VAR [video assistant referee]. Why didn’t we bring it [to the tournament]? It is the bad side of football.
“I have seen it on my phone and it is outside the box. But I don’t want to spoil the occasion for Egypt.
“Then‚ 80th minute‚ foul on my player on the white line‚ but we get nothing. It’s OK … it’s football‚ we take it and we move forward.
“Then we are chasing the game‚ we were open and the boys made some silly mistakes. You could see emotionally they couldn’t handle the penalty decision. Egypt were full value for their 3-0‚ but the man of the match‚ we all know …
“It’s difficult for the players emotionally‚ when you play this game‚ in a Cairo stadium that is buzzing‚ hot and noisy‚ and you get a decision like that in the 60th minute of the game. It becomes difficult mentally.”
Notoane hopes his side will use the anger and disappointment as a spur when they meet Ghana in the third-place play-off on Friday‚ when they can book a place at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo with a victory.
“I hope it is an experience that these young boys will take forward‚ of course we are preparing them for senior competition. We have to go to the Olympics and show more mental strength and resilience‚” he said.