The U23 Olympic team left Johannesburg for Harare on Friday morning touching down in the Zimbabwean capital just after midday.

The U23 Olympic team left Johannesburg for Harare on Friday morning touching down in the Zimbabwean capital just after midday.

The Owen da Gama-coached side play their Zimbabwean counterparts at Rufaro Stadium just a few kilometers away from the city centre on Sunday at 15h00.

With far more warmer conditions than the chilly weather conditions prevailing within the Gauteng area, coach da Gama and his rich technical team comprising astute goalkeeping coach Deshi Baktawer and former Bafana Bafana striker Shaun Bartlett, were in buoyant mood ahead of Sunday’s encounter.

Knowing very well the important of the Harare first leg encounter which would go a long way in shaping his fast rising coaching credentials, da Gama on Thursday called in a number of high-profile local coaches to help psyche up the boys.

“It was a fruitful exercise. We called in some well known coaches just to motivate the boys ahead of this crucial encounter,” said da Gama.

“It was just to tell the boys the importance of this mission and that they are starting a journey which might define their careers,” added the wily coach.

And to cap it all, da Gama said he had received a call from SAFA President, Dr Danny Jordaan; a call he said triggered off great memories.

“It was a frank and inspiring call from the President. He told me that one thing the boys must bear in mind is the fact that Rio 2016 Olympics is not a dream but a reality if they remain focused. It was a humbling call.

“I want to make South Africa proud and I have confidence in these boys,” said da Gama.

The team will train late on Friday and have another session on Saturday afternoon at the match venue before the game on Sunday.

The team returns home on Monday morning to begin preparations for the second leg.

Squad that travelled to Harare, Zimbabwe

Goalkeepers: Ricardo Goss, Jordi February

Defenders: Kwanda Mngonyama, Tshepo Rikhotso, Thabo Makhele, Zitha Macheke, Gino Moeketsi, Tebogo Moerane, Siyabonga Zulu

Midfielders: Abbubakar Mobara, Ayabulela Konqoba, Motjeka Madisha, Keegan Dolly, Maphosa Modiba

Strikers: Simphiwe Kambule, Dumisani Zuma, Siphelele Nthsangase, Siphamandla Dlamini

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