16 July 2021 – U23 Olympic Team captain Tercious Repo Malepe will become the first ever male South African footballer to participate in two consecutive Olympic Games, when he leads South Africa against Japan in the opening match of Tokyo 2020. That match will take place on 22 July 2021.
This is an accolade that not many footballers will ever achieve, with Brazilian’s Neymar being the only other male footballer to achieve this honour.
Malepe was part of the Rio2016 Olympics and will bring his experience to the class of 2021, where he will be leading his side from the back.
He said he wishes to use this opportunity to bring hope and pride back to South Africans, who are currently facing some of the most difficult times.
Speaking to SAFA.net, Malepe emphasized the importance of being patriotic and protecting the image of one’s country.
“We footballers have the opportunity to lift the spirit of our motherland using football as a nation building tool. It is a huge honour for me to become the first ever South African footballer to represent my country in two Olympic Games. If we do well, this team can heal the country and showcase the good side of Mzansi,” said Malepe.
On his experience in Rio2016 and lessons learnt about playing in the Games, Malepe had this to say. “We didn’t have the greatest of matches in 2016, however we played against some of the best players in the world. This year we have a chance to go beyond the group stages and also show the world what we as South Africans can achieve.”
The u23s have settled well at the Olympic Village in Tokyo where many countries are been housed, and that they are still acclimatizing to the hot conditions of summer in the Far East.
Malepe believes that with a few training sessions before their opening match against Japan, they will be ready to go out and do their best.
“Japan will not be an easy task but we have studied their style of play and we have a few of the same qualities as them in our squad. We are in a tricky Group A, but we too are a force to be reckoned with,” concluded Malepe.