Percy Tau headlines overage players for provisional Olympics SA under-23 squad
JOHANNESBURG - Bafana Bafana and Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Percy Tau is leading the brigade of overage players which could represent the South African Under-23 national team which will do battle in the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, this July.
Coach David Notoane announced a 40-man provisional squad for the global showpiece at Safa House on Thursday morning, naming not fewer than seven players who’ve surpassed the 23-year-old age mark as potential candidates who could represent the national team.
However, only three from the seven – Tau, Ronwen Williams, Themba Zwane, Mosa Lebusa, Ricardo Goss, Mothobi Mvala and Thapelo Morena – who’ll be able to bag a spot in the final 18-man squad, which will have four more additional players.
Tau, who’s been the talisman of the senior national team, is one of the three players, alongside Bafana No. 1 Williams, who'll likely be part and parcel of Notoane’s team which will be hoping to improve on the team’s group stage finish in the last edition in Rio de Janeiro five years ago.
Then coach Owen Da Gama selected goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune and defender Eric Mathoho as the only over-age players in his squad. Notoane, though, believes that reserving ample spots for overage players in the provisional squad will give them enough time to prepare for the best.
“First, we are going to a global showpiece and we are going to come up against the best of the best out there. We also need to avail the best talents as we’ve presented so far. I mentioned that it becomes important to strengthen the team in key areas,” Notoane said.
“It also important to bring in personalities to help advance our course because we are going to the Olympics not to add numbers, but to come back with a medal and improve the performance of the South Africans teams who've failed to exit the group.”
He added: “We also want game changers and winners because in international football, the players with a special moment are the ones that are going to win you games. I’ll give an example, if France brings (Kylian) Mbappe then why not bring Percy Tau?”
South Africa will represent the African continent alongside Egypt and Ivory Coast. There’ll be 16 national teams, including hosts Japan, which will play in the global tournament in Tokyo, while the group stage draw is scheduled for Wednesday, April 21.
THE FULL 40-MAN SQUAD:
Goalkeepers: Mondli Mpoto (Bloemfontein Celtic), Sifiso Mlungwana (Golden Arrows)
Defenders: Reeve Frosler (Kaizer Chiefs), Luke Fleurs (SuperSport United), Repo Tercious Malepe (Minaj FC, Ukraine), Katlego Mohamme (University of Pretoria), Thabiso Monyane (Orlando Pirates), Thendo Mukumela (Cape Town Spurs), Sifiso Ngobeni (Bloemfontein Celtic), Bongani Sam (Orlando Pirates).
Midfielders: Athenkosi Dlala (University of Pretoria), Luke Le Roux (Varbergs BoIS, Sweden), Kganya Leshabela (Leicester City, England), Kobamelo Kodisang (Sporting Braga B, Portugal), Gift Links (Aarhus, Denmark), Kamohelo Mahlatsi (Swallows FC), Keletso Makgalwa (Mamelodi Sundowns), Grant Margeman (Mamelodi Sundowns), Kgaugelo Chauke (Southampton, England), Sipho Mbule (Supersport United), Happy Mashiane (Kaizer Chiefs), Teboho Mokoena (Supersport United), Nkosiphilile Ngcobo (Kaizer Chiefs), Goodman Mosele (Baroka), Kgaogelo Sekota (Swallows FC), Sithole Sphephelo (Belenenses, Portugal), Ashley Du Preez (Stellenbosch).
Forwards: Lyle Foster (Vitoria Guimaraes II, Portugal), Zakhele Lepasa (Orlando Pirates), Fagrie Lakay (Cape Town City), Evidence Makgopa (Baroka), Luther Singh (Pacos de Ferreira, Portugal, loan), Siyabonga Ligendza (Cardiff City U18, England).
Overage Players: Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United), Ricardo Goss (Mamelodi Sundowns), Percy Tau (Brighton & Hove Albion, England) Themba Zwane (Mamelodi Sundowns), Mosa Lebusa (Mamelodi Sundowns), Mothobi Mvala (Mamelodi Sundowns), Thapelo Morena (Mamelodi Sundowns).