30 November 2015 – The South African Men’s u23 National Team will have their final training session in Dakar this afternoon (Monday, 30 November) ahead of an all-important clash against Zambia tomorrow (Tuesday, 1 December) where a loss will end their dreams of qualification into the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
South Africa and Zambia meet in their second match of the CAF u23 Africa Cup of Nations tournament, which will be played at the Leopold Senghor Stadium in Dakar, Senegal.
Kickoff is at 17h00 South African time.
“Obviously it is disappointing to start a tournament like this especially when we have so much quality in our team, and also because when we started this campaign we were doing well and winning games,” said Keagan Dolly, the South African u23 midfielder and also vice captain of the squad.
“I think the loss was an eye opener for us that the tournament is going to be tough. But we have to regroup. The Zambia match is going to challenge the belief in ourselves and to test if we are really a team. So I think it was good for the team to lose the first game so that we can get our focus correct and start winning games.”
Dolly believes they have to put the first match behind them and look to the future.
“There is nothing we can do about the Senegal match, it is behind us. Our focus now is on the Zambia match and the one after that. We are all aware that the next two games are very important if we want to qualify, so we have to start focusing on what’s good for our team, what our strengths are and play accordingly,” said Dolly.
In the other Group A match, Senegal will take on Tunisia, and a win for either side could put South Africa under tremendous pressure.
“We have to keep an eye on proceedings in the other match but we don’t have to worry about what happens because it is not in our hands. We should just make sure we win our next two games and try to qualify. If we get six points we stand a good chance to proceed to the last four,” added Dolly.
“If you look at our opening match we were in control in the first few minutes, but did not take our chances. Senegal used the two opportunities they got and it was a setback for us to let them score two early goals – it became difficult to get back into the game. We then started playing long balls, which is not our strength and things just didn’t go our way. But I have belief in this team. Half of the players in our squad play week in week out for their teams, so I still think we can go far.”