Mexico Sends SA Packing
South Africa u23s exited the competition after losing 3-0 to Mexico at the Sapporo Dome in their final Group A game at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
It was all or nothing for David Notoane’s team. To qualify for the knockout stages, South African would need to beat Mexico by two goals, and hope Japan beat France in the other game.
But it wasn’t to be. While Japan did there bit, Mexico proved too strong for the South Africans.
Sebastian Cordova had a chance from a free kick in the sixth minute, but his shot lacked power and Ronwen Williams saved easily. Williams was back in action two minutes later to deal with Cesar Montes’ deflected header from a corner kick.
Evidence Makgopa tried a long-range effort just after the 12th minute of the game, but it kept rising and went over Guillermo Ochoa’s goal. Kobamelo Kodisang showed some good attacking prowess three minutes later, but his attempted shot from inside the box was blocked by a defender.
On other end Luke Fleurs made a good block to deny Henry Martin, but a minute later Mexico were in the lead. Martin played a good through ball through to Uriel Antuna, who sent in a cross and Alexis Vega gave Williams no chance. 1-0 to Mexico in the 19th minute.
Williams had to be alert in the 22nd minute, as Antuna tried a curling effort from just outside the area,Luis Romo struck the woodwork in the 39th minute, before Williams saved from another Vega attempt.
Romo made it 2-0 in the 45th minute, as the Mexicans pounced on some indecisive defence, and doubled their lead just before halftime.
South Africa create a few opportunities early in the second half, but while they found themselves in good positions, they failed to threaten Ochoa’s goal. And matters got worse in the 57th minute, when after a VAR check, captain Tercious Malepe was shown a red card for a tackle on Martin.
Two minutes later it was 3-0. Martin, back on his feet, played a one-two with Carlos Rodriguez and was sent clear, and Martin made no mistake in beating Williams.
Mexico were reduced to ten men in the 66th when Rodriguez was sent off for a foul on Luther Singh, as the South African tried to race clear.
Romo shot just wide in the 70th minute, while Singh had a chance from a free kick three minutes later, but his effort was also off target, as was his free kick attempt in the 84th minute.
Teboho Mokoena threatened from distance in the 90th minute, but Ochoa pulled off the save and in the end it was a third straight defeat for South Africa, who end bottom of Group A with no points, with Mexico joining group winners Japan in the quarter-finals.
It brings to an end a disappointing campaign for Notoane and his team who conceded more goals in this tournament, than both previous Olympic campaigns combined.