Olympic dream on the line: D-Day looms for SA under-23 side
The third-place playoff against Ghana will determine who goes to Tokyo in 2020
SA coach David Notoane is hoping his attacking unit find their scoring boots when they take on Ghana on Friday in the bronze medal match at the Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations with a ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on the line.
SA have managed just a single goal in their four games at the tournament‚ a stupendous free-kick from Teboho Mokoena‚ with plenty of other chances having gone begging.
Notoane knows they need a change of luck‚ and composure in the box‚ to beat a good Ghana side who will be fired up to win an Olympic place.
“We have got a big game against Ghana. The most important thing is to buy our ticket for Tokyo. We are queuing at the moment‚ ready for check-in and tomorrow we will see if we are going to board the plane or not‚” Notoane said.
“We know our challenges‚ we came into this tournament having scored 11 goals and conceded one [in qualification]. I said to the players that maybe the level in the qualifiers was not anywhere near this level‚ and that is what makes this tournament so tough.
“Our attack is suffering from not enough time to prepare for the tournament. But we have very good attacking players.”
SA were ousted 3-0 in the semifinals by hosts Egypt‚ but that does not begin to tell the story of that game‚ where a dubious penalty was awarded to the home nation that swung the momentum of the contest in their favour.
Notoane’s side were also denied what looked like a clear-cut penalty and fell apart mentally in the closing stages to concede a heavy defeat.
The coach says they worked harder on the mental side with the players than on the training pitch ahead of Ghana.
“What is most important is to go to the Olympics and I’m sure it is the same for Ghana. There is not a lot of preparation time‚ but you have to prepare mentally‚ it is now all about the mind‚ the heart and the desire to go to Tokyo.”