Disappointed... but SA Under-23 talisman Mokoena says health should come first
JOHANNESBURG – South Africa Under-23 talisman Teboho Mokoena has described the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics as a “huge disappointment” but he admitted that it was important to put the health of everyone first.
The coronavirus outbreak has raged around the world this year, infecting nearly 380 000 people and wiping out the international sporting calendar.
In one of the ways to reduce its spread, there has been a suspension of large gatherings. Such that in South Africa as from tonight April 16, there will be a national lockdown in attempts to contain the spread of the fatal disease in the country. The deadly virus has seen the cancellation or postponement of major events, such that the Games which were set to be hosted in Japan between July and August have since been rescheduled for 2021.
The SA U23 team, together with Egypt and Ivory Coast’s U23s, were the three teams that were supposed to be Africa’s flag bearers at the Olympics after finishing third, first and second at the 2018 U23 Africa Cup of Nations respectively.
The SA Under-23 football team was supposed to be one of the African flagbearers at Tokyo 2020. Photo: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
“I am disappointed, but health should always come first. It’s a major blow, not only for soccer but for all sporting codes, because the deadly virus is spreading and seemingly uncontrollable at the moment. So, there’s nothing we can do but think about the health of everyone,” Mokoena said.
By the time the Olympics commence next year, Mokoena would be 24 years of age. That would mean he can only be selected for SA’s squad as one of the three overage players due to tournament restrictions.
“It’s really going to be tough to break into the team. But it’s really up to the coach to make a decision on the final squad,” said Mokoena.