Soccer

Under-23s looking good on the road to Olympics as they blow away Angola

24 March 2019 - 00:00 By SAZI HADEBE


The SA Under-23 team gave a good indication that they could be one of the best Olympic sides assembled in the country for quite some time.
David Notoane's team made light work of their task to beat Angola 3-1 in the first leg in Luanda on Friday, making the second leg at Bidvest Stadium on Tuesday almost a formality.
Goals by Phakamani Mahlambi and Thendo Mukumela in the first half and Grant Margeman in the second sealed SA's win.
Notoane's team now look strong favourites to be among the eight teams that will go to the 2019 U-23 Africa Cup of Nations that will determine the three African teams to represent the continent at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
The tournament will be played in Egypt in November, but Notoane was very careful not to look far ahead after Friday's victory.
"Maybe the task is not complete because when we went 3-0 up I would have liked us to keep the ball a little bit more," said Notoane, who praised Mahlambi, Lyle Foster and Luther Singh for giving the team the attacking momentum they needed.
"At times I felt we could use the ball a little bit better; we were a little bit impatient at certain times. That's an area that one will look to correct in order to manage the game better when we are leading 3-0."
While many may view the second leg as a forgone conclusion, Notoane described it as "a tricky affair".
"They got one goal that I think from a psychological point of view will give them hope and belief that if they can score two goals, maybe they can score three also in SA. It's not a done deal as it might appear.
"But I think from a tactical approach we might come with a right solution to ensure we kill the tie. What will be important, as we did today [Friday], is to score first."
Notoane was spot-on in showering his praise on Singh, the Portugal-based forward, in particular who, though he didn't have his name on the scoresheet, was involved in all the three goals scored.
"As much as they (Foster and Singh) didn't score, but the work they put up to give us the attacking prowess up front was fantastic," gushed Notoane.
SA will meet Zimbabwe or Mozambique in the second playoff if they manage to finish the job against Angola on Tuesday.
The winner of that game will then get the ticket to go to the Caf's eight-nation tournament in November.
Notoane's team would have followed Shakes Mashaba's team in 2000 and Owen Da Gama's side in 2016 if they qualify for Tokyo 2020. On both occasions, SA failed to go past the first round, but Mashaba's team made a great impression when they trashed Brazil 3-1 with Quinton Fortune, Siyabonga Nomvethe and Steve Lekoelea scoring.

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