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SA U23 side prepare for match that may send them to Olympics
- Updated: December 6, 2015
The national men’s U23 team returned to Dakar on Saturday to start preparations for the semi-final clash against Algeria on Wednesday in the CAF u23 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
The match will take place at Stade Leopold Senghor with kick-off at 8.30pm SA time.
Having finished second in Group A, South Africa take on Algeria after the north African side drew 0-0 with Nigeria on Saturday.
‘With the type of performance we showed against Tunisia we were ready to face any team but we just need to focus on ourselves and on our normal style of football,’ said SA U23 captain Keagan Dolly.
‘Our main goal was to get past the group stages because we didn’t start so well in the tournament. We were working hard to qualify for the semis because we know we have two opportunities there to qualify for the Rio Olympics – we can qualify outright if we win our semi-final match or if not we still have a chance in the third and fourth place play-off. But the first prize is to win the semifinal and go to the final and not leave anything to chance.’
Needing only a draw to proceed, South Africa booked their last four spot by defeating Tunisia 1-0 in a very tense and difficult match in M’Bour on Friday as Menzi Masuku scored the winner with five minutes left on the clock.
‘In the early stages of the game we were in control, we had a lot of possession but in the second half hey came out much stronger. They were threatening us, had a few chances but they didn’t take them and we sealed the game off. It was a great effort by the boys, it was a good team performance and we are happy that we qualified for the semi-finals,’ added Dolly.
‘I still don’t think we are at our best yet because we showed lack of concentration in the game and Tunisia almost scored at times in the second half, but our defence was quite solid and we managed to win the game. We would like to thank our fans back home for the support and urge them to continue doing so because that is the reason the boys are working so hard knowing the South Africans have our backs. The fans should keep on believing in us and we will do our best to make them proud.’
Hosts Senegal finished top of Group A with nine points – the only team in the tournament that have won all their matches – with South Africa claiming second spot with six points (they lost 3-2 to Senegal in the opening match).
Tunisia ended third with just three points while Zambia returns home with no points after losing all their matches.