South Africa U23 0-3 Mexico U23: Notoane’s men head home after losing third straight match

It turned out to be the worst participation in football for the African side after failing to win their three games

South Africa were sent out of the Olympic Games after losing 3-0 to Mexico in a football Group A match at the Sapporo Dome on Wednesday.

Two first-half goals by Ernesto Vega (18th minute) and Luis Romo (45) as well as Henry Martin’s strike on the hour mark condemned South Africa to a woeful campaign,

After being beaten 1-0 by Japan before falling 4-3 to France, David Notoane’s men went down to seal a record of South Africa’s worst participation at the games as they finished at the button of their pool.

South Africa coach David Notoane brought back Thendo Mukumela for Reeve Frosler into the starting lineup while Kamohelo Mahlatsi started ahead of Nkosingiphile Ngcobo.

Mexico had better exchanges when the match started but Luke Fleurs and Tercious Malepe were steely to avoid conceding.

As Mexico piled pressure, Fleurs was active to block Romo who had eliminated some defenders in the 26th minute.

It finally paid for the Central and South Americans when Carlos Antuna crossed for an unmarked Vega to connect and break the deadlock.

It was an episode which exposed South Africa’s defence as Vega was unattended to inside the box.

Vega was back again but this time found an alert Ronwen Williams to deny him from close range.

Mexico continued with their dominance and had Romo capitalising to hit home from a Lebohang miscued attempted clearance off a fisted clearance by Williams.  

The second goal by Mexico appeared to have sucked the power out of South Africa who struggled to match up with their opponents.

An anxious moment two minutes into the second half saved by Malepe cleared after an exchange between Romo, Martin and Antuna.

An attempt by South Africa to hit back was then frustrated when Evidence Makgopa was a bit slow to rise and head in a cross from Thano Cele in the 51st minute.

Problems deepened for the Africans who then had Malepe red-carded 10 minutes into the second half.

Three minutes after Malepe’s sending off Martin was sent through by Carlos Rodrigues to beat Williams and make it three goals for Mexico.

But numbers were levelled up when New Zealand referee Matthew Conger showed a red card to Rodriguez in the 66th minute.

Romo then almost got his second goal of the match but shot just wide as South Africa showed no hopes of clawing back into the contest.

With 13 minutes to go, Fleurs was at hand to clear with his head on the goal line a deceiving cross from Romo as South Africa survived another attack.

Mokoena forced a save from Mexico veteran goalkeeper Francisco Ochoa to make a desperate save in stoppage time but that was not enough to at least get a consolation goal. 

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