Dodgy penalty helps dent SA’s Tokyo 2020 hopes

David Notoane. Pic: BackpagePix)

South Africa will face Ghana on Friday for a place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, after they were beaten 3-0 by hosts Egypt on Tuesday evening in the semifinals of the Caf Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations at the Cairo International Stadium.

With only the top three sides at the tournament in Egypt earning a place at Tokyo 2020, Notoane’s side must now beat Ghana to clinch a spot on the plane to Japan next year.

The match turned on a controversial second half penalty awarded by Senegalese referee Daouda Gueye, and while Luther Singh then hit the bar for David Notoane’s side, Egypt’s Abdel Magdy put gloss on the victory with two late goals.

In a tense first half, South Africa had to do plenty of defending, as Egypt pressed Notoane’s team back, though Darren Johnson didn’t have too much to do in goal, apart from quite comfortably gather a header from Mostafa Abdalla.

Athenkosi Dlala showed great composure at the back for Notoane’s side, while Teboho Mokoena and Sipho Mbule grafted typically well in midfield, the former unable to repeat his free kick heroics from the Ivory Coast game when he blazed over from distance.

Singh’s efforts to get through the Egypt defence were also in vain, as the two sides went into the break locked at 0-0.

South Africa got a bit lucky early in the second half, as Abdalla nearly broke through their defence, but the ball took a lucky bounce off the face of Siyabonga Ngezana and into the arms of Johnson.

In the 51st minute, Kamohelo Mahlatsi was unlucky to be booked for what looked a clean challenge on Abdalla, whose free kick was then tipped around the post by Johnson.

Johnson then got lucky as he spilled Abdalla’s long-range effort, and Ramadan Sobhi blazed the rebound over the bar.

Egypt, however, did take the lead through Sobhi in the 59th minute, as Senegalese referee Gueye awarded a penalty to the host nation for handball, even though the shot was struck against a South African defender from point blank range, and hit his hand outside the penalty area.

South Africa pressed for an equaliser and came closest when Kabomelo Kodisang was fouled on the edge of the box, and Singh’s free kick rattled the crossbar.

Egypt, however, sealed the game in the 85th minute as Abdel Magdy capitalised on some poor defending to blast home, and the same player added another a minute from time to complete South Africa’s misery.

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.



today in print