Jonty Mark
Football Editor
2 minute read
13 Aug 2016
10:14 am

Mekoa: It was a good experience

Jonty Mark

Deolin Mekoa said South Africa were satisfied with their performance at Rio 2016 even though they were knocked out in the group stages without winning a match.

Deolin Mekoa (R) of South Africa reacts during the preliminary round match between South Africa and Iraq for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games soccer tournament, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 10 August 2016. EPA/ALAN MORICI/FRAMEPHOTO BRAZIL OUT

Owen Da Gama’s side landed in Johannesburg yesterday along with Banyana Banyana, both sides failing to make it to the quarterfinals of their respective tournaments.

“It was a good experience,” said Mekoa, who played in all three of his side’s games, either at left-back or in midfield.

“We tried our best in all the games and we gave it our all, unfortunately things did not go our way. We played good football in the tournament, we had people from Brazil supporting us, that is how good we were … unfortunately we never qualified … we learned a lot from the tournament and we are happy.”

South Africa held hosts Brazil to a goalless draw in their opening match, boosting hopes they could get to the last eight. But they lost their next game 1-0 to Denmark and a 1-1 draw with Iraq on Wednesday spelled the end of their campaign.

“We created chances in the three games and luck was not on our side, we couldn’t score, then we managed to score against Iraq and then they equalised,” added Mekoa.

Banyana Banyana also returned yesterday, after finishing their campaign with a goalless draw against the hosts. Banyana, for a largely amateur side, competed well but couldn’t score a goal and lost their other games to Sweden and Brazil.

“It’s been an incredible experience for us. Since the London Olympic Games in 2012 this team has grown enormously in terms of our play. Who would have thought that we could give the best teams in the world a good run and a good game. It is rather unfortunate that we couldn’t progress to the next stage because we had it in us,” said Banyana skipper Janine van Wyk.

“But sometimes when you don’t take the chances that you get, if you don’t use that one opportunity that you create against top teams it will cost you dearly, and that is exactly what happened. But we have grown as footballers, as individuals and whatever we have learnt from our coach is something we will cherish forever.”