28 November 2015 – Head coach of the South African Men’s u23 National Team, Owen da Gama has announced his starting eleven for the CAF u23 Africa Cup of Nations opening clash against hosts Senegal.
The tournament gets underway this afternoon (Saturday, 28 November) at the Léopold Senghor Stadium in Dakar.
Kickoff is at 17h00 South African time (15h00 local time).
Ricardo Goss will man the goals, while Kwanda Mngonyama and Tshepo Rikhotso complete the defence.
Abbubaker Mobara, Keagan Dolly and Phumlani Ntshangase will play alongside Mako in the middle of the park.
Siphelele Ntshangase will assist Mahlambi with goal scoring duties.
“I just want to say to the boys, KE NAKO! We are all aware that it will not be easy but we have to go out there and fight, let’s show them that we want it more. The great team spirit that exists in this group gives me the confidence that we can do it. The Road to Rio does not start with this clash against Senegal, but the journey continues,” said Kwanda Mngonyama who will captain the side during the tournament. Dolly has been selected as the vice captain.
South Africa is in Group A with the hosts, as well as Zambia and Tunisia.
“We are very excited, this is a great experience for us. The players are aware of the task at hand and we are all ready for this momentous occasion. I am very happy that we got through this week, now we are waiting for kickoff. There are no injuries and the mood is fantastic within the team, which gives us confidence of doing well. There is a no doubt about our aim – we just have to win, whether it is narrow or close, it really doesn’t matter as long as it’s a win,” said Da Gama.
South Africa next faces Zambia, then Tunisia.
“Senegal is very strong and experienced in such competitions. They are also the champions of the All Africa Games. They are a group that has been together for a very long time as they started in the u17s and moved to u20 and were then promoted to the u23 squad. They are a very good side and we can’t take them for granted. As for me personally this is probably the biggest game of my life.”
The final will be played on Saturday, 12 December.
The top three will qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
SA u23 11 vs Senegal:
Ricardo Goss (GK), Tshepo Rikhotso, Kwanda Mngonyama (c), Rivaldo Coetzee, Denwin Farmer, Abbubaker Mobara, Keagan Dolly, Phumlani Ntshangase, Paseka Mako, Phakamani Mahlambi, Siphelele Ntshangase
Jody February (GK), Kyle Peters (GK), Zitha Macheke, Tebogo Moerane, Deolin Mekoa, Ryaad Norodien, Sibusiso Sibeko, Dumisani Zuma
Coach: Owen da Gama