The South African Men’s u23 National Team arrived in Dakar, Senegal in the early hours of Wednesday and have stepped up preparations for the upcoming CAF u23 Africa Cup of Nations tournament which gets underway on Saturday, 28 November.

Owen da Gama’s men arrived in this bustling city after an 8-hour flight from Johannesburg. They were in the company of COSAFA counterparts Zambia who are also in Group A, together with Tunisia and the hosts, Senegal.

Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria and Mali make up Group B.

The top three will qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

South Africa held their first training session on Wednesday afternoon and will return to the field this afternoon and tomorrow before taking on Senegal in the opening match on Saturday at the Léopold Senghor Stadium.

Kick-off is at 17h00 South African time (15h00 local time).

“The moment we have been waiting for is upon us. For months we have been asking ourselves when this time will come. Now we have arrived in Senegal which means we are getting closer and closer to the start of the tournament and I can see everyone is itching for action. That is a good sign,” said Nomsa Mahlangu, member of the SAFA National Executive Committee and Head of Delegation.

“You need to remember one thing – we stand on the verge of making history, never before have all our two national teams qualified for the Olympic Games at the same time. With Banyana Banyana having already secured their spot, we have an opportunity to join them in the tournament. The coach has selected the best personnel for that job and as the Association; we have all the faith and belief that this team will do well.”

South Africa next faces Zambia on Tuesday, 1 December in Dakar and will then travel to Mbour for the last group stages clash with Tunisia. That showdown will take place on Saturday, 4 December at the Caroline Faye Stadium.