16 November 2019 – Ideally, South Africa’s National Under-23 coach David Notoane would have loved to have played against U-23 AFCON hosts Egypt in the final, as compared to locking horns with them in the semis.
The gods of football, though, opted to go against that wish and granted fate the permission to have its way in the outcomes of the two group standings of this year’s quadrennial continental showpiece currently ongoing in Cairo, Egypt. As a result, South Africa finished second of Group B and will now face Group A winners, Egypt, at Cairo Stadium on 19 November.
That match will kick-off at 20h00.
Notoane stated that he was not bothered much by the outcome of the top two finishers of the two groups though, adding that he and his charges will prepare accordingly to fight for a win in their semi-final tie against Egypt.
As it stands, South Africa remains the only national team that is yet to concede in this tournament from the two groups, while Egypt has conceded three times leading up to the semi-final fixture against Notoane’s charges.
A win in that match will guarantee South Africa a place in to next year’s Tokyo Summer Olympic Games, as it is only top three finishers of this tournament who will get to represent Africa in that global sporting event.
“I am happy with how the boys played in this match,” Notoane said. “We knew that we only needed a win or a draw in order for us to go through the next round and I am glad that we were able achieve that. Ideally, I would have loved to face Egypt in the final, however, the gods of football decided otherwise.
“We will prepare accordingly to fight for a win in that tie.”
Notoane added that he is expecting a highly contested clash against their semi-final opponents, as Egypt might come highly motivated to avenge their senior men’s team defeat they suffered in last 16 of this year’s senior men’s AFCON tournament.
Bafana Bafana knocked out Egypt in the last 16 of the tournament with a 1-0 scoreline; in the very same venue the semi-final U-23 AFCON fixture between South Africa and Egypt will be played.
“There are a lot of emotions attached from both sides going into this match,” Notoane said. “And that is our senior men’s team knocked The Pharaohs in the very same tournament setup a few months ago. We can only draw inspiration from their performance and try to emulate what Bafana Bafana did and push in our ambition of reaching this year’s final.
We have got two dreams,” Notoane added. “And that is we want to qualify for both the Tokyo Summer Olympic games and reach this year’s U-23 AFCON final.”