SA U23s need nothing less than victory against Mexico to keep Olympic dream alive
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DURBAN - The South Africa Under-23 team needs nothing less than victory in their final Tokyo Olympic group stage game against Mexico this afternoon.
While they lost their opening two fixtures against Japan and France, David Notoane’s team still have an outside chance of advancing to the knockout stage.
For that to happen, they will need to record a convincing victory over Mexico while also hoping that hosts Japan beat France.
Japan are already through to the knockout stage after winning their two games so far against SA and Mexico.
While SA are still in with a chance, the last leg of group fixtures is likely a shootout between Mexico and France to determine which of the two will join the hosts in the knockout round.
After losing their opening game against Japan, Notoane’s troops improved against France. They led the Europeans three times and scored goals through Kobamelo Kodisang, Evidence Makgopa and Teboho Mokoena.
Defensive lapses in concentration proved to be the downfall for the South African’s and French captain Andre-Pierre Gignac used his experience to punish them by bagging a hat-trick.
Meanwhile, Jaime Lozano’s Mexican side will have to make do without the services of defender Johan Vasquez against SA after he was shown a red card in their defeat to Japan.
Prior to losing to the hosts, the Mexicans managed a 4-1 win over France to open their campaign and they will be confident of advancing to the quarter-finals.
To do so, they will either need to beat or draw against SA and hope that France are frustrated by Japan.
Judging from France’s squad selection for the tournament and their play so far, one can ascertain that the Olympics may be a tournament that they do not take seriously.