South Africa had a bad start into their Tokyo Olympics campaign after they were edged 1-0 by Japan in a Group A fixture at the Tokyo Stadium on Thursday.
The South Africans were playing second fiddle to the Japanese, who had the upper hand for the most part of the game, but thanks to goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, the score margin wasn’t embarrassing as he made a number of crucial saves.
The match started with the host getting an early chance in the sixth minute through a set-piece just on the edge of the box, but Takefusa Kubo couldn’t take the opportunity, with his attempt blocked by the South African wall.
A fantastic cross into the SA box then found Kubo at the far posts, but the midfielder hit the side net in the 15th minute.
Luther Singh launched an attack in the 31st minute, but his last past in search of Evidence Makgopa was intercepted by the Japanese defenders.
Right after that, the Aisans almost got the opening goal through Ritsu Doan, but Ronwen Williams pulled a great save.
Japan thought they had scored soon after, but Daichi Hayashi was ruled to be offside. The game went into the break with the Japanese having been the stronger side, while South Africa didn’t even get a shot at goal.
In the second half, Williams was called up into action when a cross found Hayashi in the SA box in the 55th minute, but the SuperSport United goalkeeper made an excellent save to deny the host a lead.
Japan finally broke the deadlock in the 71st through Kubo, who curled in a shot with Williams’ fingertips not strong enough to stop the ball from going into the back of the net.
A glorious opportunity for South Africa fell for Singh in the 77th minute inside the Japan box, but the Portugal based player shot straight to the Japanese goalkeeper Kosei Tani, who gathered the ball with ease.
In the end, the score remained 1-0 as Japan walked away with maximum points.