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Notoane – A Mammoth Task Before Us

National under-23 head coach David Notoane says South Africa face a mammoth task against Japan in the opening game of the men’s football competition at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday.

South Africa face the hosts at 1pm South African time tomorrow.

Notoane has explained the difficulties the team has faced since arriving in Tokyo, where the only got to train for the first time 48 hours before the game, after having to be in isolation.

With Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi having tested positive and in quarantine, Notoane has just 17 players to select from.

“Preparations have been very, very, very difficult. Very tough,” Notoane said in the build-up this week.

“Very unusual also and indeed, we have experienced the full might of COVID-19, the new normal that we are living under. Of course, we came back from Egypt. And coming back from Egypt already the third wave was picking up. Then we made a decision to divert to Mpumalanga, where we had a very good eight day camp.

“We came back to Joburg and then traveled to Tokyo full of hope, excitement that finally we can be in Tokyo and settle down and get used to the temperature, acclimatize properly and be ready for our first game on Thursday against Japan.

“But unfortunately, we had a total turn around. We came into Tokyo. We probably experienced the worst of COVID-19 that I’ve experienced since we started on this project after qualifying.

“So, ja, it’s what it is. We lost some players,right now we have also two players and a staff member in isolation. We were also in isolation,we just did our first session today (Tuesday), after seven days, you know, three days on the road in South Africa, from Nelspruit to Gauteng, and then from Gauteng to Tokyo is another two days, and then another two days of isolation with no training.

“So it’s really tough, but it’s what it is, you know, we have to pick ourselves up, finally, we got our first session, I could see the boys were huffing and puffing as expected. So ja, Japan is before us, it’s gonna be a war, you know, that’s what it is, we’re in a war zone.”

Notoane says it is going to require a big effort from us his team against the hosts.

“So we have to go with the spirit of going into fight,” Notoane continued.

“It’s becoming more than football, if you know what I mean. Because physically, we are at a huge, huge, huge disadvantage against a team that is highly athletic as well. So you can imagine now the mammoth task that is before us for the opening match that everyone will be looking forward to, from all parts of the world.

“And we are there on the guillotine at the moment. So we have to find a way to escape the guillotine that Japan is before us in this point in time.”