CAIRO - South Africa’s coach David Notoane would have preferred to meet Egypt in the final, but instead his charges will take on the tournament hosts in the semis of the Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations in Cairo on Tuesday.
South Africa finished second in Group B and with Egypt finishing top of Group A to setup the intriguing clash.
As it stands, South Africa remains the only team yet to concede in this tournament from the two groups, while Egypt has conceded three times.
A win in the semifinal will guarantee South Africa a place in next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games, with the top three finishers from the Under-23 Afcon automatically qualifying for the Olympic showpiece.
“We have got two dreams,” Notoane added. “And that is we want to qualify for both the Tokyo Summer Olympic games and reach this year’s Under-23 Afcon final,” said Notoane.
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South Africa and Nigeria settled for a 0-0 stalemate in their final group clash on Friday night in Cairo.
“I am happy with how the boys played in this match. We knew that we only needed a win or a draw in order for us to go through the next round and I am glad that we were able achieve that. Ideally, I would have loved to face Egypt in the final, however, the gods of football decided otherwise.
“We will prepare accordingly to fight for a win in that tie.”
Notoane added that he is expecting a closely-fought clash, as Egypt might come highly motivated to avenge their senior men’s team defeat they suffered in this year’s senior men’s Afcon tournament.
Bafana Bafana knocked out Egypt in the last 16 of the tournament with a 1-0 scoreline; at the same venue which will be used for the match on Tuesday.
“There are a lot of emotions attached from both sides going into this match,” Notoane said. “And that is our senior men’s team knocked The Pharaohs out in the very same tournament setup a few months ago. We can only draw inspiration from their performance and try to emulate what Bafana Bafana did and push in our ambition of reaching this year’s final.”