The Tokyo Olympics started on a sour note for the South African football team after the men’s Under-23 team suffered a 1-0 loss in group A at the hands of hosts Japan in the opening game on Thursday.
Japan were simply too strong on their home turf at the Tokyo Stadium. Takefusa Kubo scored a spectacular 71st-minute goal that goalkeeper Ronwen Williams could do nothing about.
Williams had a superb game and it was thanks to him that their opponents didn’t get any more goals in.
Kubo is part of the fearsome Japanese attack that includes Ritsu Doan, Daizen Maeda, Ao Tanaka and Yuki Soma.
The 20-year-old Kubo is a Real Madrid player but was on loan at fellow LaLiga side Getafe. He was developed by Barcelona at their famous La Masia before signing for Madrid in 2019.
The South African team suffered a number of setbacks during their preparations for the tournament, so it was expected that the team would have a rusty start.
On arrival in Tokyo last week, Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi tested positive for Covid-19. They are still in quarantine.
David Notoane’s men will next face France on Sunday.
France were thrashed 4-1 by Mexico in their opening match. The French national team is without superstar players such as Kylian Mbappé, who was part of the recent Euro tournament. The team comprises mainly little-known players.
South Africa ought to beware of the French coming back strong following their humiliating defeat. Mexico tops the group, while Japan is second. South Africa are third and France are at the bottom as a result of their heavy defeat.