SA Under-23s get early return ticket from Olympics

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SA Under-23 captain Tercious Malepe is shown a red card during the team’s defeat to Mexico on Wednesday. Photo: SAFA
SA Under-23 captain Tercious Malepe is shown a red card during the team’s defeat to Mexico on Wednesday. Photo: SAFA


South Africa again failed to progress beyond the group stage in the Olympics football tournament on Wednesday.

The national under-23s at the Tokyo Games in Japan became the latest class to be eliminated in the first round.

Coach David Notoane’s side suffered a 3-0 defeat to Mexico, the team’s third straight loss after defeats by France (4-3) and Japan (1-0).

Group A leaders Japan beat France 4-0 in another pool match as the hosts and the Mexicans progressed to the knockout stages.

READ: Team SA’s Olympic football camp descends into chaos

Africa’s other representatives, the Ivory Coast and Egypt, marched into the quarterfinals.

The Ivorians and the Egyptians finished as runners-up, and they will meet Spain and Brazil, respectively, in the last eight on Saturday.

Reflecting on what could have been, South Africa were left to rue how they let the game against the French slip from their grip, despite leading on three occasions.

Schoolboy errors were also apparent in the match against the Mexicans, where the permutations were not even in their favour prior to the game. South Africa’s problems at Sapporo Dome on Wednesday were compounded by the sending off of captain Tercious Malepe, following a review by the video assistant referee, 10 minutes into the second half.

READ: Tough start for Team SA in Tokyo

The numerical disadvantage opened the gap for Mexico to net their third goal before they too saw their player being red-carded for a professional foul on Luther Singh.

South Africa will be on the next plane home as they finished bottom of the group pointless after three defeats.

This is the third time the men’s team have exited the Olympics in the first round. In Rio de Janeiro five years ago, under coach Owen Da Gama, they finished bottom of group with two points after two draws and a defeat. Despite a 3-1 hammering of Brazil at the 2000 Sydney Games in Australia, South Africa still fell short after defeats by Japan and Slovakia.


Daniel Mothowagae 

Deputy sports editor

+27 11 713 9001
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park

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