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Another Blow For Olympic Team

David Notoane and the national U23 teams’ preparations for the Tokyo Olympics have been dealt a big blow, as the proposed trip to Saudi Arabia later this week has been called off, Velile Mnyandu and Rob Delport report.

iDiski TImes has learnt from impeccable sources that the camp where the team was set to play friendlies against the host country has been cancelled after Saudi Arabia confirmed they were unavailable on the dates SAFA was proposing. 

This comes as a big blow to Notoane and his team, after the friendly tournament in Dubai earlier this month, where they would’ve played Brazil, Argentina and South Korea, was also cancelled.

It is another blow to the preparations for a tough Olympic group against hosts Japan, France and Mexico, who have all been active in playing a series of international friendlies, including against African opposition ahead of the tournament.

When asked for comment SAFA spokesman Dominic Chimhavi says the Saudi Arabian camp was called off because of logistics.

“Okay, so the reason why we decided to opt out of the Saudi Arabia trip was purely because Saudi Arabia camp was supposed to be on our way to Tokyo,” Chimhavi told iDiski Times

“But because of logistical problems we decided let’s have a local camp.

“It’s something which SASCOC has also encouraged, to say the team should leave as a group instead of this one leaving from Saudi Arabia, this one leaving from Joburg. 

“So logistically we found that is far much easier to have a local camp than to go to Saudi Arabia.”

It is still not clear what will be SAFA’s next plan for the preparations with regards to international friendly matches as they hold the local camp.

Meanwhile iDiski Times understands that with the possibility of Kaizer chiefs qualifying for the CAF Champions League Final, set to be played on 17 July, just two days before the Olympics get underway, Notoane had earmarked Mamelodi Sundowns Thapelo Morena to replace Reeve Frosler in case he’s not available. 

However Morena’s unavailability, and that of his Sundowns’ teammate Themba Zwane, has forced Notoane to look at other over-age options, who are now believed to be Ronwen Williams, Abbubaker Mobara and Thabiso Kutumela. 

To add to the problems, the camp has been hit by a number of positive Covid-19 cases, which could derail some of his original selections.

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