South Africa’s Under-23 squad was eliminated from the 2023 U-23 Africa Cup of Nations and the Paris Olympics in the last round of qualifying after drawing 0-0 against Congo in Brazzaville on Monday evening.
The South Africans paid the price for failing to win the first leg at Dobsonville Stadium on Thursday, drawing 1-1.
The eight-team U-23 Nations Cup in Morocco in June and July serves as a qualifier for the men’s football tournament at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
— SAFA.net (@SAFA_net) March 27, 2023
The non-qualification is a setback for the next generation of South African footballers, and it comes as Bafana Bafana faces failure to qualify for the senior Nations Cup if they do not defeat Liberia in Monrovia on Tuesday (6 pm SA time).
At Stadium Alphonse Massemba-Débat, coach David Notoane’s lineup included Cape Town Spurs goalkeeper Lincoln Vyver behind a defence that included Siyanda Msani (Richards Bay FC), Wayne Dortley (Spurs), Olwethu Makhanya (Stellenbosch FC), and Keagan Johannes (SuperSport United).
Jayden Adams, Antonio Van Wyk (both from Stellenbosch), and Kgaugelo Chauke made up the midfield (Exeter City). Mduduzi Shabalala (Kaizer Chiefs), Boitumelo Radiopane (Spurs), and Thapelo Maseko were the front three (SuperSport).
The South Africans’ buildup in Brazzaville was marred by alleged host-country gamesmanship.
On Saturday, Notoane’s team trained for 45 minutes in a setting without lights. On Sunday, their training session at the match venue was cut short after around 30 minutes when the Congo squad came and began exercising on the same pitch.
The move resulted in an argument that interrupted the session. All of this only served to highlight why the South African U-23s needed to win the home leg.