JOHANNESBURG - That Kaizer Chiefs missed out on gold in the Caf Champions League doesn’t mean the desire for silverware has dried up for Reeve Frosler and Nkosingiphile Ngcobo as they endeavour to inspire the South African Under-23 football team to glory at the Tokyo Olympics.
Chiefs had a record-breaking season in the Champions League. They reached the final of the competition for the first time in their history but fell at the last hurdle, losing 3-0 to defending champions Al Ahly in Casablanca on Saturday.
The result was a double-edged sword: Amakhosi extending a six-year trophy drought, while the Red Devils defended their title to claim their 10th continental crown. Duo Frosler and Ngcobo, however, have a chance to win silverware with the junior national team.
On Sunday evening, fresh after Chiefs’ defeat to Al Ahly, the duo left Morocco to join the rest of the U23 squad at the Athletes Village in Tokyo.
Frosler said he is hoping to build on his continental experience ahead of the global showpiece.
“Obviously, there were a lot of lessons that we learned in the game. We were disappointed by the results, but we move on and try to get better. We’ll take the experience into the Olympic Games and hopefully we can do well there,” said Frosler before his departure.
Frosler is one of the three replacements – along with Thendo Mukumela and MacBeth Mahlangu – that were called up to the SA squad after the team released Keletso Makgalwa, Lyle Foster, Fagrie Lakay, Abbubaker Mobara and Sipho Mbule due to medical reasons.
Ngcobo, though, made the cut in the initial final 19-man squad from the outset, despite his involvement in the Champions League final.
“I am very happy, it’s a great opportunity – and I’ll make sure that I work hard,” Ngcobo said. “It was another great experience (to play in the Champions League), so I am grateful and happy. I hope I’ll get game time (at the Olympics) and improve my game.”
The arrival of the Chiefs duo should be a boost for coach David Notoane. Already the U23s have suffered a major blow upon their arrival in Japan as they were isolated for two days after recording three positive Covid-19 results.
Video analyst Mario Masha and players,Kamohelo Mahlatsi and Thabiso Monyane, were the three team members who tested positive for the virus. Ngcobo and Frosler play in the exact same positions as Mahlatsi and Monyane.
The South Africans, who began training early this week, will kick-off their campaign against hosts Japan at Tokyo Stadium on Thursday.
“It’s a good feeling, and another achievement for myself and my career. Another opportunity to showcase my talent at the highest stage at the Under-23 level, and I am very excited about that. I hope I can get a few games under the belt,” Frosler said.