SA Under-23 team record two Covid-19 positives upon arrival at Olympic Village Japan
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JOHANNESBURG – The preparations for the South Africa Under-23 football team set to participate in the Olympic Games from next week has been put in disarray after they sustained two Covid-19 positive cases during the first round of testing in the Olympics Village, Japan, on Saturday
“We definitely have challenges with (two) positive Covid-19 cases,” coach David Notoane said on Saturday. “We had one official who is positive, and one player is now infected. So, our programme is already on hold because we have to isolate the whole day.”
He added: “We (didn't) manage to get the team sessions going because of lack of facilities. It was supposed to be our first training session (today). But it looks like it will be cancelled. Covid-19 is really scary because of its impact in the tournament by the look of things.”
The Under-23s left for Japan on Wednesday, having spent a couple of weeks in a bio bubble in Mpumalanga as part of their preparations. But they had challenges there also, as five players had to be withdrawn from the initial final squad for medical reasons.
These players are: Abbubaker Mobara, who was one of the two overage players, Lyle Foster, Keletso Makgalwa, Sipho Mbule and Fagrie Lakay. But Notoane has only called up three players, Thendo Mukumela, Reeve frosler and MacBeth Mahlangu, as their replacements.
“We came into this Olympics Village a little bit more confident, having gone through the challenges in South Africa during our preparations camp for the tournament itself. We thought that we are over the challenges, and in the Village we should be more secure,” Notoane said.
“But as it turns out now, with the two members of our squad that have tested positive, you can’t even imagine where they get it from. You start to trace back, but we’ve been in a bubble. We lost one player before we came here and everyone else tested negative after that.”
While the South Africans are still shuttered about their recent challenges, they can’t moan and sulk around as they have to gather some inspiration ahead of their opening fixture against the hosts Japan on Thursday. They are in Group A alongside Japan, Mexico and France.