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Under-23’s Games chase

The South African men’s Under-23 football team has lined up two friendly matches against Algeria in preparation for the crucial African Under-23 championships to be staged in Marrakech and Tangiers, Morocco from 26 November-10 December 2011.

The matches are to help head coach Shakes Mashaba and his technical team to build momentum leading to the 8-Nation tournament in Morocco, which will be used as the final qualifying round for eight African Nations as they battle it out for the three spots to the 2012 London Olympics.

The South Africans’ preparations for the tournament start with the first clash against Algeria on Saturday, 12 November 2011 with a second match set to be played three days later. The matches will take place in the capital Algiers.

The squad is expected to assemble on Sunday, 6 November 2011, and departs for North Africa the following Wednesday. They will hold their training sessions at the Pilditch Stadium in Pretoria.

Coach Mashaba’s squad will then continue with their preparations in the North African country before taking on Algeria. The hosts will also be competing for a ticket to the London Olympics.

They have been drawn in Group A alongside Nigeria, Senegal and tournament hosts Morocco. In Group B South Africa is with Egypt, Gabon and Cote D’Ivoire.

ÔÇ£I am really looking forward to beginning preparations for the CAF Under-23 Championship, and this travel to Algeria will give my team a feeling of what to expect when they participate in the tournament later next month,” said Mashaba.

“We have selected Algeria as an opponent in the hope that the team will give us a strong challenge and help us prepare well as things will not be easy in Morocco. The match is also aimed at keeping the players active until we get to the tournament because we need to keep some momentum going to Morocco.

“There are other aspects of the game I would like to rectify with this clash against Algeria before the start of the tournament, and the time we spend in that country will also help the players to acclimatise well,ÔÇØ said Mashaba.

The South Africans will depart for the Championship in Morocco on 16 November 2011.ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿ They open the tournament with a match against Cote D’Ivoire on 27 November; followed by Gabon on 30 November with the last group stage match being against Egypt on 3 December 2011.

All the group stage matches will take place in Marrakesh.

The three countries that top the CAF African Under-23 championship will automatically qualify for the Olympic Games. The fourth team will battle it out against an opponent from Asia for the last ticket to London.


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