South Africa…… (0) 1

Leletu Skelem 56′

Saudi Arabia…… (0) 1

Abdulrahman Ghareeb 77′

17 November 2020 — South Africa’s National Under-23 side were held to a 1-1 draw by Saudi Arabia following a goal by Abdulrahman Ghareeb, who converted from the spot kick in the second period of the match at King Abdullah Sport City Stadium in Jeddah  on Tuesday. 

This goal came in 17 minutes after South Africa’s opener through Leletu Skelem, who broke loose from his marker before slotting past the opposition’s goalkeeper in the 56th minute. 

From the onset, South Africa played with great intent to find the back of the net as early as possible in the game. Saudi Arabia, however, never made it any easier for them as they preferred playing defensively deep in an attempt to thwart every attacking chance their opponents tried to create in search for an early lead. 

That approach did not discourage Notoane’s charges, though, as they continued to work on their combinations in an attempt to dismantle their opponents in the rearguard going into the second period of the match. 

In the second half, South Africa played with a far much greater aggression at goal as compared to the first, with Skelem almost scoring an opener in the first minute of the second period. Skelem’ shot, however, was cleared away for a corner. 

Kamohelo Mahlatsi then followed with a powerful drive outside the 18-yard box, two minutes later from that first attempt. His shot, too, was also denied. 

South Africa continued to create plenty of chances, however, were unlucky as scoring attempts from attacking players like Fagrie Lakay and Zakhele Lepasa were denied by the woodwork. 

Coach David Notoane said it was quite unfortunate that they could not win their second friendly match against the Saudis, following their 3-2 defeat in their first friendly meeting against them. Notoane, however, highlighted that he was pleased with the information he got regarding the new faces he roped in for assessment. 

Notoane used these two encounters as part of his preparations for next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games.

“It is quite unfortunate that we lost this match,” Notoane said. “We created plenty of chances, however, goals could not come our way. Three of our shots at goal struck the woodwork in a match I believe we should have won. 

“And though I am disappointed with the result of the game, I am happy with the data that we collected from this camp,” Notoane added. “Players like Leletu Skelem and Malebogo Modise who are new faces in this setup, truly showed us what they can offer this team moving forward. Zakhele Lepasa also raised his hand that he can be a goal-poacher for us going into the Olympics Games, to mention but a few players (that impressed him). They  just need to continue working hard in their respective clubs and keep building on their weekly match performances.”

South Africa U23 Starting XI: Darren Johnson (G), Thabiso Monyane, Malebogo Modise, Siyabonga Ngezana, Tercious Malepe (C), Goodman Mosele, Promise Mkhuma, Jamie Webber, Leletu Skelem, Shane Roberts, Kamohelo Mahlatsi.

SUBS: Sifiso Mlungwana, Njabulo Blom, Sifiso Ngobeni, Sipheshle Mkhize, Nkosingiphile Ngcobo, Katlego Mohamme, Given Msimango, Fagrie Lakay, Zakhele Lepasa.