SA beat Zimbabwe to qualify for 2019 Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations

10 September 2019 - 17:15 By Nick Said
Hagiazo Magaya of Zimbabwe challenged by Tercious Malepe and Teboho Mokoena of South Africa.
Hagiazo Magaya of Zimbabwe challenged by Tercious Malepe and Teboho Mokoena of South Africa.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

SA have secured their spot at the 2019 Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations and taken a step closer to qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after a 0-0 draw with Zimbabwe at the Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo on Tuesday.

The result sees coach David Notoane’s side reach the continental showpiece following a 5-0 aggregate win having thumped Zimbabwe in the first leg to all but secure their passage.

They will now take part in the November 8–22 finals in Egypt‚ where a top three place would see SA secure a return to the Olympics following their 2016 showing in Brazil.

But Notoane will already be sweating over the composition of his squad with the Fifa international window from November 11-19 covering most‚ but not all‚ of the African competition.

Notoane made five changes for the second leg with such a healthy advantage‚ bringing in Latvia-based defender Kabelo Seriba‚ Siyabonga Ngezana‚ overseas-based wingers Khanya Leshabela and Gift Links‚ and forward Jemondre Dickens.

SA Under-23 players Mondli Mpoto, Sipho Mbule and captain Tercious Malepe.
SA Under-23 players Mondli Mpoto, Sipho Mbule and captain Tercious Malepe.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

It took until the 20th minute for the first real opening for SA as Links unleashed a long-range shot that was well-saved by the home keeper.

Juan Mutudza flashed a free-kick over the bar for Zimbabwe‚ and then forced an excellent stop from Mondli Mpoto in the South African goal as he came close to the opener from a header.

Both goalkeepers were under-worked in the second period too – Mpoto did well to block a shot from Zimbabwe striker Prince Dube‚ once on the books of SuperSport United.

Home forward Romario Matova also headed over when well placed‚ but neither side could find a goal in the closing stages‚ with South Africa happy to take the draw.

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