21 September 2022 – The South Africa Under-23 Men’s national team are quietly going about their business at a training camp in the south of Johannesburg and coach David Notoane is happy with the way things are going.
Notoane and his charges have been based at the SAFA National Technical Centre since the beginning of the week as the coach continues to search for the ingredients that he hopes will see the side through to the 2023 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations qualification tournament to be played in Morocco in June next year. The tournament will serve as African qualifying for the Olympic football tournament, with the top three teams at the Morocco event securing tickets to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
The training camp, which wraps up on Monday 26 September 2022, is intended to help Notoane and his players find their rhythm, synergy and build rapport as their qualifying programme starts in the second round next month when they face the winner of the match between Togo and Mauritania. Togo and Mauritania play their first round match this weekend.
“Obviously these boys have been to COSAFA, and this is a continuation of the group that was in COSAFA. This camp is in preparation for the Olympic qualifiers now that we know the programme,” said Notoane.
“We are unfortunate because this camp was also supposed to go play in Bahrain. While the logistics were being finalised, unfortunately Bahrain withdrew at the last minute, a day before we were to announce the camp.”
Notoane said the South African under-23 side will play some training matches against local teams while in camp as he tries to find a winning combination. He hopes to have the same group of players when the team assembles in October for the qualifiers.
“This is more about bringing the group together, seeing where they are, seeing the synergy in the group so that come October when it is time for the serious business of playing the qualifying matches, one knows exactly what the puzzle looks like because it is my first time with the group.
“They represented Bafana Bafana in COSAFA, but we interacted with the coaches in Bafana Bafana at the time, following their progress.
“For the technical staff as well, it is also an opportunity for us to come together, direct things in terms of going forward and how we want to work, really set the tone in terms of the October camp so that we do not find ourselves in a situation where we are meeting for the first time. It is a very important camp, although the withdrawal of Bahrain presented us with some challenges. We are grateful to the PSL teams for releasing the players.”