SA U23 coach David Notoane disappointed after losses but takes positives from Egypt tour
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CAPE TOWN – South Africa Under-23 succumbed to back-to-back defeats in Egypt, and that does not inspire confidence ahead of the Olympic Games in Tokyo next month.
The strong Egypt line-up included a few players who ply their trade in Europe, are the reigning Under-23 Afcon champions. They signed off the two-match series against touring South Africa with a 5-0 aggregate.
The SA team was depleted after some players were prevented from travelling by their European clubs. There was a raft of further withdrawals because of Covid-19.
Team coach David Notoane said the results served as a wake-up call for the players. As champions of Africa, Egypt will be a force to be reckoned with in Japan. South Africa will come away wiser, knowing what to expect at international level.
The team returned to Johannesburg on Monday afternoon, and Notoane said he was pleased to see some of the overseas-based players in action.
"The tour was intense and gave us a chance to see some of our foreign-based players," said Notoane.
"It gave us a chance to see what we wanted to see in overseas players. We saw defender Tercious Malepe (Mynai, Ukraine), striker Lyle Foster (Vitoria Guimares FC, Portugal), midfielders Thabo Cele (Cova da Piedade, Portugal), Luke Le Roux (Varbergs Bois FC, Sweden) and left half Luther Singh (Paços de Ferreira, Portugal).
"We have a few other players abroad, but because of Covid-19 and quarantine issues, they could not join us.
"Yes, the results and performances were disappointing, but we took many positives from the two friendlies.
"We now have an understanding of what our core players have to offer. Some of our best players who performed well in the PSL also could not make the tour.
"All in all, we have a good blend and once we are fully prepared, we'll be a strong unit.
"We were up against a side that plays in a very strong league. Some of Egypt's players have played in the (CAF) Champions League already."
Meanwhile, the Egypt Under-23 squad have returned to their camp in Cairo buoyed by the news their coach Shawky Gharieb have applied to Liverpool to release striker Mohamed Salah.
The Egyptian FA have announced that their talismanic striker wants to play at the Olympic Games as one of the country's three over-age players.