23 November 2019 – The South African U-23 Men’s National Team is back home after qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which will be held in Japan from 22 July to 8 August.
The President of the South African Football Association (SAFA), Dr Danny Jordaan, who was accompanied by Bafana Bafana head coach Molefi Ntseki as Antonio Barradas from La Liga, welcomed the squad.
Only two players did not travel with the team as they went back to their clubs – Luther Singh (Porto FC) and Lyle Foster ((Belgium).
South Africa earned bronze medals following their third place finished in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations when they defeated Ghana 6-5 on penalties after both teams canceled each other with a 2-2 draw at the end of 90 minutes regulation time.
South Africa joins Egypt and Cote d’Ivoire as the three representatives of the African continent at the Games.
This is their third qualification for the competition – their second in a row. In 2000 Shakes Mashaba led the squad in Sydney, Australia and at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016, Owen da Gama was in charge.
Nine teams have already qualified for Tokyo 2020 – hosts Japan, South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire (all from CAF); France, Germany, Romania and Spain (all from UEFA) as well as New Zealand (OFC)
Still to be determined are the representatives of CONMEBOL (2), CONCACAF (2) and AFC (3) to complete the 16 teams for the tournament.
Despite the bronze medal, South Africa had a good tournament as they received four Man of the Match awards in five matches – Kamohelo Mahlatsi, Teboho Mokoena and Luther Singh (2). It was only the 3-0 loss to Egypt that David Notoane’s charges could not pick up that trophy.
The same players are the ones that scored South Africa’s three goals.
To top it all, captain Tercious Malepe was named in the Best 11 of the competition.
Goalkeeper Darren Johnson kept three clean sheets in the first three games, before being bridged three times by the hosts in a 3-0 loss in the semi-final.
In the third/fourth play off match, Mondli Mpoto was introduced in goals and made two crucial penalty saves to book South Africa’s ticket to the Olympics.
Man of the Match awards and results:
Kamohelo Mahlatsi: SA vs Zambia 0-0
Teboho Mokoena: SA vs Cote d’Ivoire 1-0
Luther Singh: SA vs Nigeria 0-0
Luther Singh: SA vs Ghana 2-2 (SA won 6-5 on penalties)
Captain Tercious Malepe was named in the Best 11 of the tournament
Luther Singh 1
Kamohelo Mahlatsi 1
Teboho Mokoena 1
Darren Johnson (GK) 3 vs Zambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria
Mondli Mpoto 2 (vs Ghana)