Malepe On Writing Olympics History For SA
SA U23 captain Tercious Malepe, who is set to become the first South African to play at two Olympic football tournaments, says the achievement is a huge honour.
Malepe and sixteen of his teammates have already settled into the Olympic village in Tokyo, where they will soon be joined by Kaizer Chiefs duo Nkosingiphile Ngcobo and Reeve Frosler, after the CAF Champions League.
It has been a difficult settling in time for the South Africans who have had three members of their party test positive for Covid-19 since arriving, with player Kamohelo Mahlatsi and Thabiso Monyane as well as video analyst Mario Masha all being put into quarantine.
Malepe says the Olympics is a great chance to lift the spirits of the nation and that he feels humbled to become the first South Africa to feature in two Olympic tournaments.
“We footballers have the opportunity to lift the spirit of our motherland using football as a nation building tool,” Malepe told SAFA.net.
“It is a huge honour for me to become the first ever South African footballer to represent my country in two Olympic Games. If we do well, this team can heal the country and showcase the good side of Mzansi
Malepe also recalled his time with the squad in Rio, Brazil, five years ago, and says this time they hope to go one step further, by reaching the knockout stages.
“We didn’t have the greatest of matches in 2016, however we played against some of the best players in the world. This year we have a chance to go beyond the group stages and also show the world what we as South Africans can achieve,” Malepe added
But he knows it won’t be easy in a group with hosts Japan, France and Mexico…
“Japan will not be an easy task but we have studied their style of play and we have a few of the same qualities as them in our squad. We are in a tricky Group A, but we too are a force to be reckoned with,” he added.
The team have been in isolation for three days, but finally managed to train, much the the pleasure of Malepe.
“Ja, to be honest, it was not easy,” he explained.
“And, you know, especially for us as players, when you receive such news, you know, we came here knowing very well that we under very difficult times, of course of which is Covid-19, but I think we didn’t expect what we are experiencing at the moment.
“But nevertheless, you know, it’s the game of football with soccer players, you know how to adjust, you know, can imagine spending three days in a room having to isolate, it was not easy at all. But what I managed to do, and the team as well, they responded well, because they, you know, those are decisions that we can’t control. You know, I always tell the boys to say, when you’re in a situation that you can’t control, then just follow the rules.
“At the end of the day, today, we managed to go train, of which is what we were looking for, we are here to play football, and not to complain about anything, you know, always do this to put our mind into the job in hand and make sure that we represent our country with pride.”