SA under-23 coach David Notoane happy with the Afcon draw

04 October 2019 - 17:25 By Mark Gleeson
SA Under-23 coach David Notoane is on a mission to qualify the team for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
SA Under-23 coach David Notoane is on a mission to qualify the team for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Coach David Notoane expressed satisfaction with SA’s draw for next month’s U-23 Africa Cup of Nations‚ but was quick to point out whatever was pulled out of the hat for Amagluglug was always going to be an imposing task.

Notoane’s charges will take on the Ivory Coast‚ Nigeria and Zambia in Group B of the eight-team tournament from November 8-22.

The top three finishers at the tournament go on to the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year.

Notoane could afford a smile as he watched the draw proceedings on Wednesday night in Alexandria.

“I think the draw is very‚ very good‚” he told TimesLIVE from Egypt.

“It was always going to be a tough one‚ in both groups‚ given the quality of the teams but on the balance of how it turned out‚ I think we are in a group of derbies -- South Africa versus Zambia‚ Ivory Coast and Nigeria.

“Group A is a group of death with all the west Africans and the host country‚ so I think I’m very‚ very happy.”

Hosts Egypt‚ Cameroon‚ Ghana and Mali are in Group A.

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

Amagluglug meet Zambia on November 9 and then take on the Ivorians and Nigerians on November 12 and November 15 respectively. All the Group B games will be at Cairo’s Al Salam Stadium.

“We know Zambia and this generation of players they have‚ like Patson Daka‚ Fashion Sakala and Enoch Mwepu.

“They beat us at Cosafa at under-20 level in 2016 so we have a score to settle with this group of players‚” Notoane added.

“I’m happy to play them in the first game and I’m happy that we are ending our group phase against Nigeria‚ who are the defending champions.

The top two finishers go through to the semifinals‚ where Olympic Games’ berths are at stake.

South Africa were one of the top three finishers at the last U-23 Africa Cup of Nations in Senegal to go on and compete at the Rio Olympics.

Notoane’s next mission is to ensure the availability of all of his key players‚ especially as some of the dates of the tournament are outside the Fifa window for international matches and the clubs might not release their players.

“I look forward to good preparations and getting the support to get all the players for the first game because it will be key to open the first group game with a good result.

“Personally‚ I’m very happy we got an opponent that we know rather than one we don’t know‚” he added.

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