The South African U-23 Olympic team lost 1-0 to hosts Japan in their opening match of Tokyo 2020. The match was played at Tokyo Stadium in sweltering heat.
A 71st minute goal by Takefusa Kubo gave the hosts the three points after South Africa had stoically defended for most of the game. It was after they had conceded that David Notoane’s charges started to fashion their own openings and twice could have done better in front of goals.
Japan dominated the first half of the match but created a few chances and in most cases, found the visitors defence unyielding.
Captain Tercious Malepe and Luke Fleurs played a sterling role in ensuring that the match remained goalless in the first half while goalkeeper Ronwen Williams also had a brilliant match and kept South Africa in the game until that brilliant goal by Kubo.
Coach Notoane made two substitutions during this match when Kobamelo Kodisang came in for Reeve Frosler in the 78th minute to try in bring some spark to the South African attack and Nkosingiphile Ngcobo came on in the dying minutes of the match.
South Africa will face France who lost 4-1 to Mexico in their second Group A match of the Olympic Games on 25 July 2021.