12 November 2020 — We have to be remembered following our participation in next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games. 

This is the view of South Africa’s National Under-23 forward Zakhele Lepasa, who believes that this current generation of South African Under-23 players; do have what it takes to excel against the best of the best in next year’s Olympic Games. 

Lepasa, who has been roped in to form part of coach David Notoane’ side that is currently in Saudi Arabia for their upcoming two friendly matches against the hosts, said this is one opportunity he has been waiting for to come his way for a long time. 

It is in this preparation camp for next year’s Olympic Games that the Soweto-born forward says he hopes to make a long lasting impression on Notoane, before the final Olympic squad is decided. 

South Africa will take on Saudi Arabia Under-23s in two International friendly matches scheduled for 14 and 17 November, before they fly back to South Africa on the 18th. 

The team is now in day two of their quarantine following their arrival on Wednesday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. 

“One can also say that he is also truly grateful of the fact that the Olympics Games were postponed for next year,” Lepasa said. “This has granted players such as myself with the opportunity to raise their hands and say that they want to be part of the final Olympic squad that is to represent South Africa in this major world sporting event. 

“For me, it is not about just going to the Olympics for the sake of just being there,” Lepasa added. “It is about performing and giving your best for your country at all times. And that’s because, when you do that, against the best of the best in the world, the world notices you. The right people take full notice of you, too. That is how you open bigger doors for yourself.”

Lepasa reiterated the words of coach David Notoane, stating that it was about time South Africa broke the hoodoo of not progressing any further than the group stages at the Olympic games. After having watched how South Africa performed in last year’s U-23 AFCON in Egypt where they finished third, Lepasa believes that the country has the right amount of talent to do well in next year’s Tokyo Olympics. 

“This is not for the first time that a South African football national team will be competing in the Olympic Games,” Lepasa said. “Some people in the county might have forgotten the names of the precious players that have been to the Olympics. This generation of players wants to be remembered for our participation there. And the only way we can  achieve that is to support coach David Notoane’s vision of going there to compete for a medal. Doing that, I believe, will motivate the next generation to shine and try to do better than we did.

“We want to be remembered.”