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Notoane Pleased With Under-23 Progress

South African under-23 coach David Notoane says he can take a lot of positives from their two friendly matches against Saudi Arabia.

South Africa lost 3-2 to the Saudis on Saturday, and drew 1-1 against the same opponents on Tuesday afternoon at the King Abdullah Sport City Stadium in Jeddah.

Lelethu Skelem scored for the under-23s in the draw, as the South Africans took the lead, before conceding a late penalty to the home team.

“Today we played a 1-1 draw against the Saudis in our second match, and after a very, very, very solid good performance, really we deserved a win to be honest, with the amount of chances we created,” Notoane said after the second match, before heading home to South Africa.

“And of course, we hit the post three times in the game. So that gives you a lot of inspiration, you take out a lot of positives.”

“We would have loved of course, to end the tour with a win, but I said to the boys it is difficult to win in conditions such as this, you saw again the officials were playing a different game against us, you know we conceded again from a penalty, but it’s okay.”

“Our focus then is obviously one of preparation, and today we saw that players like Lelethu Skelem and Shane Roberts, you know being the new players. And Malebogo Modise came in for (Sifiso) Ngobeni, and did very very well.”

“So overall, one is very very happy in terms of increasing the pool of players, and also addressing certain key challenges, in key positions.”

“I thought Malebogo did very well at left back, Ngobeni also did very well (in the first game), so that presents us a process that leads to a solution, coming to next year.”

“We also brought in Skelem in attack, we created, so we are still looking for that marksman who can put the ball in the net, Lepasa has shown his hand after coming in the last few camps, and at this camp he has really showed maturity and we are happy about that.”

“Is he the one that will score goals for us? Let’s hope. I believe, if he continues with his form at Orlando Pirates, and the confidence that he is displaying at Orlando Pirates, he brings in to the national team.”

“So I think it was a very successful camp overall, in terms of the transition from the under 20 players graduating to under-23, but also blending in new players, so I’m very happy on that note.” 

Notoane is preparing the Under-23 team for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Rob Delport
Rob Delport
Rob Delport is a walking football encyclopedia, having been a mainstay in the Cape Town football scene for years. Rob has previously worked for SABC and various websites and publications across Africa, as well as being the South African Head Researcher for Football Manager and doing a similar role occasionally for EA Sports FIFA. Highly respected, Rob is now a senior iDiski Times website and newspaper writer, and is also responsible for the newspaper's editorial.