The South African Men’s u23 National Team returns to Dakar on Saturday, 5 December to start preparations for the semi-final clash against as yet unknown opponents on Wednesday, 9 December in the CAF u23 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
The match will take place at Stade Leopold Senghor.
Kickoff is at 20h30 South African time (18h30 local time).
Having finished second in Group A, South Africa will take on the winners of Group B.
Mali has already been knocked out of Group B, so Owen da Gama’s boys will face one between Egypt, Algeria and Nigeria – the identity will be decided later today (Saturday, 5 December) when they complete the group phase.
Egypt is up against Mali and Nigeria will lock horns with Algeria.
“With the type of performance we showed against Tunisia we are ready to face any team, obviously we would like to know who we are playing against and how they are playing because we will be meeting them for the first time but we just need to focus on ourselves and on our normal style of football,” said SA u23 captain Keagan Dolly.
“Our main goal was to get past the group stages because we didn’t start so well in the tournament. We were working hard to qualify for the semis because we know we have two opportunities there to qualify for the Rio Olympics – we can qualify outright if we win our semi-final match or if not we still have a chance in the third and fourth place playoff. But the first prize is to win the semifinal and go to the final and not leave anything to chance.”
Needing only a draw to proceed, South Africa booked their last four spot by defeating Tunisia 1-0 in a very tense and difficult match on Friday, 4 December at Stade Caroline Faye in M’bour, Senegal. Menzi Masuku scored the winner with five minutes left on the clock.
“In the early stages of the game we were in control, we had a lot of possession but in the second half hey came out much stronger. They were threatening us, had a few chances but they didn’t take them and we sealed the game off. It was a great effort by the boys, it was a good team performance and we are happy that we qualified for the semifinals,” added Dolly.
“I still don’t think we are at our best yet because we showed lack of concentration in the game and Tunisia almost scored at time in the second half, but our defence was quite solid and we managed to win the game. We would like to thank our fans back home for the support and urge them to continue doing so because that is the reason the boys are working so hard knowing the South Africans have our backs. The fans should keep on believing in us and we will do our best to make them proud.”
Hosts Senegal finished top of Group A with nine points – the only team in the tournament that has won all their matches – with South Africa claiming second spot with six points (they lost 3-2 to Senegal in the opening match). Tunisia ended third with just three points while Zambia returns home with no points after losing all their matches.