The South African Men’s u23 National Team got their Olympic dream campaign off to a bad start when they lost 3-1 to hosts Senegal in the opening match of the CAF u23 Africa Cup of Nations tournament currently underway in Senegal.
The clash took place on Saturday, 28 November at the Léopold Senghor Stadium in Dakar.
Played in front of a very poor crowd, the visitors were punished as early as the 15th minute when captain Kwanda Mngonyama was beaten for pace and pulled his man down – the referee Redouane Jiyed from Morocco didn’t hesitate and gave a penalty.
Ibrahima Keita made no mistake, sending Ricardo Goss the wrong way to give his team a lead and the crowd something to cheer about.
Five minutes later the home side increased their lead after midfielder Abbubaker Mobara was dispossessed and Keita got his second of the day and second for Senegal.
South Africa was awarded a penalty after debutant Phakamani Mahlambi, who was the livewire in the South Africa squad, was brought down in the box.
Phumlani Ntshangase converted the spot kick to give his side a glimmer of hope in the 28th minute.
The visitors were living dangerously at the back and were exposed most times. They escaped when Sidy Sarr outpaced Mngonyama and chipped the ball over the advancing Goss, but Coetzee was on hand to clear any danger.
Late in the second half, defender Denwin Famer was stretchered off the field suffering from a mild concussion after a clash of heads. While he was still being attended on the side of the field, Senegal restored their two-goal lead when second half substitute Sidy Sarr scored another soft goal.
South Africa ended the match with eight in-field players as the medical team was attending to Mahlambi after suffering a mild ankle sprain, while Farmer did not go back to action.
The match finished 3-1 to Senegal.
Both Farmer and Mahlambi are said to be responding well to treatment and could be ready for the next match.
In the other Group A clash, Tunisia beat Zambia 2-1. The result means both Senegal and Tunisia are tied on three points each – but the hosts are top of the table due to a goal difference.
Zambia is third while South Africa is fourth – both have no points. The two sides meet in a do or die affair on Tuesday, 1 December at the Leopold Senghor Stadium at 17h00 South Africa time.