South Africa Under-23 coach David Notoane has announced a strong squad to take on Nigeria‚ Ivory Coast and Zambia in the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations.
The tournament will produce three teams to represent Africa at the Olympic Games in Tokyo‚ Japan‚ next year.
Notoane said it was not an easy undertaking to procure players for the U-23 Afcon‚ which starts on November 8 and finishes on November 22. “It’s been a tedious process but a lot of effort was put into it and we have to acknowledge and commend the persons who were involved in the process.”
Notoane said most of the players based at Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs will join the squad later. Those campaigning in the GladAfrica Championship will be released thanks to the agreement reached between the PSL and Safa to postpone First Division matches.
“We had to make some tough calls to compromise the quality in order to get this team. Some of the players might not be available for the first match but I’m still hopeful‚” he said.
But with most PSL teams playing until November 10‚ Notoane’s call might fall on deaf ears as no club is obliged to release players before the official start of the Fifa break.
Ivory Coast will be second team faced by Notoane’s team on November 12 before finishing the group matches against Nigeria on November 15.
The semifinals will be played on November 19 and the two winners will qualify for Tokyo while the losers will meet on November 22 to determine the third team to represent Africa.
SA Under-23 Afcon Squad
Goalkeepers: Mondli Mpoto (Bloemfontein Celtic)‚ Darren Johnson (Ajax Cape Town)‚ Andile Mbanjwa (Richards Bay FC)
Defenders: Keagan Johannes (Ajax Cape Town)‚ Siyabonga Ngezana (Kaizer Chiefs)‚ Thendo Mukumela (Ajax Cape Town)‚ Thabiso Monyane (Orlando Pirates)‚ Happy Mashiane (Kaizer Chiefs)‚ Tercious Malepe (Chippa United)‚ Katlego Mohamme (University of Pretoria)‚ Keanu Cupido (Cape Town City)
Midfielders: Sipho Mbule (SuperSport United)‚ Athenkosi Dlala (University of Pretoria)‚ Kobamelo Kodisang (FC Braga‚ Portugal)‚ Kamohelo Mahlatsi (University of Pretoria)‚ Grant Margeman (Ajax Cape Town)‚ Teboho Mokoena (SuperSport United)‚ Luther Singh (Moreirense FC‚ Portugal)
Strikers: Phakamani Mahlambi (Mamelodi Sundowns)‚ Lyle Foster (Cercle Brugge‚ Belgium)‚ Itumeleng Shopane (Swallows FC)