JOHANNESBURG – David Notoane, coach of the national men’s Under-23 team, welcomed the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics by a year because it will give him time to plug holes in the team that will represent South Africa at the showpiece.
The Games, to run from 23 July to 8 August 2021, were pushed back by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The virus has forced the cancellation, suspension and postponement of several sporting events.
Fifa was proactive in their stance, amending rules to ensure that players who will be over the age of 23 when the Olympic football tournament kicks off are eligible to play as Under-23s.
“The postponement is a positive move because it will allow us time to properly build the team from a technical, tactical, physical and mental stand-point,” Notoane said. “There are areas where we were a little bit short in terms of cover, like the full-back positions.
We lacked a bit of depth and quality in those positions. This time will allow players like (Reeve) Frosler for instance to heal from their injuries and regain match fitness.”
The postponement will allow a player like Reeve Frosler for instance to heal from his injuries and regain match fitness. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Regaining match fitness will be tricky though, with football indefinitely suspended and South Africa currently in a 21-day national lockdown in an attempt to flatten the curve of the spread of COVID-19.
It’s still uncertain when football will resume as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa banned gatherings of more than 100 people taking place before placing the country under lockdown. Players have been keeping fit in their homes in preparation of any eventuality when it comes to finishing the 2019-20 season.
“There is nothing that we can really do at this stage in terms of getting the players to the highest level,” Notoane said. “We just have to wait and see. The players haven’t been active for up to three weeks, and it will take time for them to get back to their peak conditions.
It will really be a challenge, which is why it is up to them to keep up with their programmes that the clubs have given them and remain active. I usually tell my players that it is important to develop good routines because those stay with you for a long time, like doing 20 push-ups and sit-downs in the morning and at night.
I used to do that three to four days a week when I was a player and it served me good.”