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SA’s Olympic hopefuls have it all to do after Senegal defeat
- Updated: November 29, 2015
The national men’s Under-23 football team got their bid to be at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio off to a shaky start in Senegal on Saturday.
Coach Owen da Gama’s (pictured) men went down 3-1 to the host nation in the opening fixture of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
The match was played in front of a surprisingly poor crowd at the Léopold Senghor Stadium in Dakar.
The visitors were punished as early as the 15th minute when captain Kwanda Mngonyama was beaten for pace and pulled his opponent down – the referee Redouane Jiyed from Morocco didn’t hesitate and pointed to the spot.
And Ibrahima Keita made no mistake, sending Ricardo Goss the wrong way to give his team a lead and the crowd something to cheer about.
And five minutes later the South Africans’ job got a whole lot harder as midfielder Abbubaker Mobara was dispossessed and Keita got his second of the day.
South Africa then received a glimmer of hope when they were awarded a penalty after debutant Phakamani Mahlambi, who was a livewire in the South Africa squad, was brought down in the box.
Phumlani Ntshangase converted the spot kick and it was 1-2 down in the 28th minute.
The visitors were living dangerously at the back and were exposed most times. They escaped when Sidy Sarr outpaced Mngonyama and chipped the ball over the advancing Goss, but Coetzee was on hand to clear any danger.
Late in the second half, defender Denwin Famer was stretchered off the field suffering from a mild concussion after a clash of heads. While he was still being attended on the side of the field, Senegal restored their two-goal lead when substitute Sidy Sarr scored another soft goal.
South Africa ended the match with only eight in-field players as the medical team was attending to Mahlambi after suffering a mild ankle sprain, while Farmer did not go back to action.
In the other Group A clash, Tunisia beat Zambia 2-1. The result means both Senegal and Tunisia are tied on three points each – but the hosts are top of the table due to a goal difference.
Zambia is third while South Africa is fourth – both being pointless. The two sides now meet in a do-or-die affair on Tuesday at the same venue (kick-off 5pm SA time).