12 October 2019 – Under-23 Olympic Team coach David Notoane is impressed by his charges showing during Friday’s practice game at the coastal city of Ismailia where the two teams drew 1-1.
South Africa could have stolen the victory in the dying minutes but captain Tercious Malepe blasted his penalty kick over the bar in the 87th minutes to deny the visitors the win.
But coach Notoane was not despondent with the failure by his team to convert late chances into a win saying these are small things coaches can work on as the 8-Nations AFCON tournament nears.
“In terms of this practice match (Friday’s game), it gives us a measure of where we are against a very good side in Egypt. This is a highly tactical side but we also came (to Egypt) to assess some players in a game situation and how they can fit in, Thabiso Monyane on the right, Mashiyane on the left. The two are bringing in a different dimension to the team and we are happy to have those headaches now going into the tournament proper,” said Notoane.
After fielding mostly fringe players in the opening minutes in which the visitors conceded in the 10th minutes, South Africa came strongly in the last segment, literally camping in the hosts half. It is when they snatched the equaliser in the 85th minute through Malepe’s well taken penalty kick before missing what could have been the winner two minutes later.
“We finished strongly and that is because the core of the team started on the bench but in a game situation, you obviously start with your strongest team and that is what we will do on Sunday (during the friendly international match),” added Notoane.
The u23 national coach said there were a few things this team still needs to work on.
“There are still a few things to work on, our box entry, our penetration and taking our chances but we are okay.
“What impressed me this early is that the players brought in into this camp raised their hands, they fitted in nicely into the team and this is part of the talent pipeline and part of the broader Vision 2022.
“Also in terms of our readiness, I think we have a team that can create wonders for South Africa, we just need to sharpen our finishing, the chances we create. We must be a bit more ruthless in the box,” said the coach.
Notoane said he hoped to translate the showing in the practice game into victory which will be a great morale booster going into the tournament next month where South Africa are in Group B with Zambia, Ivory Coast and defending champions Nigeria.
Group A is made up of hosts Egypt, Ghana, Cameroon and Mali.