The South African u23 National Team has completed preparations for their international friendly match against Japan which will take place on Wednesday, 28 June 2016 at the General Sports Stadim in Matsumoro.

The South African u23 National Team has completed preparations for their international friendly match against Japan which will take place on Wednesday, 28 June 2016 at the General Sports Stadim in Matsumoro.

Kickoff is at 12h30 South African time.

After a few hours of sleep following a 24-hour travel to Matsumoro, Owen da Gama’s side had their one and only training session to get ready for the Kirin Challenge Cup – an annual tournament by one of the biggest sporting corporations in Japan. South Africa has been invited to the event.

Da Gama says they accepted the invitation for the one-match challenge to strengthen their preparations for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games scheduled for August.

“During the Olympic Games we are going to come across many different styles of football, therefore we thought it necessary to test different variations of our game. The beauty of football is that although there are many different styles to the game, the foundations of defending and attack are always similar,” said Da Gama.

“Japan played against Iraq during the Olympic qualifiers of the Asian region, and they were crowned champions, therefore, it is great that we have been bestowed with this opportunity to play them in this once-off encounter.”

Da Gama adds that they will be tested by a stronger oppostion, but that is exactly what they want ahead of Rio.

“Japan is tactically very disciplined and organized throughout the match. They have been together for about 3 years and that means they have a very strong bond amongst their players. Our strengths are based on keeping ball possession, while they like to press high,” added the SA u23 mentor.

“They have a collective defensive organization and are a hard team to break down from what we have seen, so it is going to be very interesting for us to try and break them down. We are going to use this match to build on our strengths and weaknesses, along with gaining the much need confidence going forward,” said head coach Owen Da Gama.

The South African Olympic team has been drawn into Group A against hosts Brazil, Iraq and Denmark, while Japan is in Group B with Nigeria, Colombia and Sweden.

Japan did not qualify for the 1992 Olympics in Spain.

Four years later (USA 1996) they only finished in the group stages, but improved their position with a quarterfinal exit in Australia 2000. They ended in the group stages in Greece (2004) and Beijing (2008), and managed a fourth place finish in London four years ago.

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