Soccer

Olympics football: South Africa will show Mexico ‘what we are capable of’ – Notoane after France defeat

The African nation surrendered the lead thrice to allow the European nation to come from behind and claim victory in a seven-goal thriller

South Africa head coach David Notoane has stated his side will play for pride when they face Mexico in the Tokyo Olympic Games on July 28.

South Africa lost their second group game to France, with a 3-4 margin where the former scored through Kobamelo Kodisang, Evidence Makgopa and Teboho Mokoena while a hat-trick by Andre-Pierre Gignac and a goal from Teji Savanier inspired the latter to a slim win.
 
“We have to go to the last game and play for our pride and try our best to get to the next round,” Notoane told reporters.
 
“We will go and display the kind of football that South Africa is capable of. It is a chance for the players to market themselves and we should take the last game as our prize and an opportunity to go home with our heads held high.
 
“It was a difficult, exciting, emotional [France] game because we went for it and they also came for it and, in the end, it was a game of margin of errors. We made more mistakes in our defensive areas than France.
 
“I am proud of the boys for their effort, commitment and quality of play. Sad as it is, but that is what football is, what more can we say?

Managing Energy Levels

The tactician also explained why he adopted a more defensive approach against Japan and praised the changes he made against France on Sunday.
 
“The approach was primarily to manage our energy levels and hopefully to take a draw, which unfortunately did not happen. In the next two games, we hoped to give a kind of performance like today,” stated Notoane. 
 
“The challenge before us ahead of the Japan game was that we had three days to prepare and we had almost seven days without training, so we decided to go with an approach against Japan that would allow us to have the kind of performance in terms of energy today.
 
“The changes for the France game were very effective even though we did not have the depth from the bench. We took a chance on two players and they surprised us even after going without training, apart from the physical work they have been doing in their rooms during the isolation period. 

South Africa U23 vs France U23
 
“I think we have a very slim chance of going through, mathematically, because on the head to head records we are out and that is why it is going to be very difficult for us to be honest. It was very important to get a result today, even though it was a draw. Unfortunately, that was not going to be.”
 
Faulting his players for a number of mistakes, Notoane revealed the strategy they deployed against France that almost gave them their first point in the ongoing competition.
 
“We analysed the strength of France and, generally, South African players are quick going forward, are athletic and good in one-on-one situations. We opted to play to our strength and use our speed to get into the high areas,” he concluded.
 
“We wanted our wide players to play behind them and we got a lucky goal, if you may call it. We played to our strength and we showed the quality that we have in our attacks, but, of course, there are other aspects you can look at in our defensive behaviour. 
 
“One has to play even without the ball, be more organised, be willing to fight and run harder by putting your body on the line and we failed in that regard. That is why we conceded two goals in the last eight minutes.”

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