The Olympic Rings are displayed by the Odaiba Marine Park Olympic venue on June 3 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/YUICHI YAMAZAKI
The Olympic Rings are displayed by the Odaiba Marine Park Olympic venue on June 3 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/YUICHI YAMAZAKI

SA under-23 soccer coach David Notoane has been forced to alter his plans for the Tokyo Olympic Games after a mini tournament that was to be played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the coming days was cancelled at the 11th hour due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The South Africans were scheduled to face Brazil‚ South Korea and Argentina in a series of friendly matches from June 5-11. Notoane’s side will now play two preparation matches away against Egypt on June 10 and 13‚ and the coach will then announce his final squad for Tokyo after the trip to the North African country.

“Unfortunately at the 11th hour government protocols couldn’t be agreed for us to be in the UAE in terms of Covid‚” said Notoane. “So we moved swiftly to talk to our friends in North Africa and we managed to secure two games against them. We’ll be in Egypt from the seventh to the 14th of this month to play those matches.”

With the Premier Soccer League completing its programme on Saturday‚ Notoane said he was able to make changes to his squad and add players he had to leave out for the now cancelled trip to the UAE.

“You’ll see that the squad to Egypt is different to the one that was going to the UAE simply because at the time we announced the team we were scheduled to start on the fifth and the PSL had extended their calendar to end on the fifth.

“We’re now happy that with the PSL season ending on the fifth, and with us departing on Monday‚ all the players will be available.

“So with the dark side of losing the UAE trip there’s positivity now that the players we would have liked to have in this final assessment camp are available.

“It’s a squad of 25 players, but of course there are those we didn’t select because they were selected for the Bafana Bafana team [to play Uganda in a friendly on June 10].

“I’m talking of players like Sipho Mbule‚ Teboho Mokoena and Sibusiso Mabiliso. After this camp we will then move to the finalisation of our squad for Tokyo.”

The SA team‚ which will be making a third appearance in the Olympics after participating in Sydney in 2000 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016‚ will be looking to go beyond the first round for the first time when they face hosts Japan‚ France and Mexico in Group A.

Egypt and Ivory Coast are the other teams that will represent the African continent in Tokyo.

Japan will be SA’s first opponents on July 22‚ followed by France on July 25 and Mexico on July 28.

SA Under-23 team to play Egypt

Goalkeepers: Mondli Mpoto (Bloem Celtic)‚ Lincoln Vyver (Cape Town Spurs)‚ Sifiso Mlungwana (Golden Arrows)

Defenders: Tercious Malepe (FC Minaj‚ Ukraine)‚ Katlego Mohamme (University of Pretoria)‚ Thendo Mukumela (Cape Town Spurs)‚ Luke Fleurs (SuperSport United)‚ Bongani Sam (Orlando Pirates)‚ Keanu Cupido (Cape Town City)‚ Kamogelo Mahlangu (TS Galaxy)‚ Reeve Frosler (Kaizer Chiefs)

Midfielders: Luke le Roux (Varbergas Bols FC‚ Sweden‚) Thabo Cele (Cova da Piedale‚ Portugal)‚ Goodman Mosele (Baroka FC)‚ Grant Margeman (Mamelodi Sundowns)‚ Kobamelo Kodisang (Sporting Braga FC‚ Portugal)‚ Nkosingiphile Ngcobo (Kaizer Chiefs)‚ Rowen Human (B TLV Bay Yam‚ Israel)‚ Kamohelo Mahlatsi (Swallows FC)

Strikers: Fagrie Lakay (Cape Town City)‚ Luther Singh (FC Pacos de Ferreira‚ Portugal)‚ Keletso Makgalwa (Mamelodi Sundowns)‚ Lyle Foster (Vitoria Guimares‚ Portugal)‚ Liam Jordam (FC Helsingor‚ Denmark)

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