A tired-looking South African Olympic team were beaten 4-1 by the pace of their Japanese counterpart in the annual Kirin Challenge Cup in Matsumoto, Japan on Wednesday evening.
While critics will dismiss any excuses, the demands of the recent COSAFA Cup and a marathon travelling schedule which saw the team travel 24-hours to Japan, definitely took its toll and at the end of the day SA were no chance for the hosts for most of the match.
From the very first minute of the match South Africa were put under pressure by the home team as the visitors tried to get into grasp with a variety of challenges. On the other end, the Japanese looked fresh and took advantage of the weary visitors as they tore them apart in the later part of the first half to literally take the match away from the visitors.
While Da Gama’s charges absorbed the early pressure and actually took the lead in the 29th minute when a Japanese defender made a foul in the box and the referee awarded a penalty which Gift Motupa coolly slotted home, it was a matter of time before the visitors buckled under pressure.
Seven minutes later, Japan equalised when striker Shoya Nakajima converted a cross but it was mostly due to captain Rivaldo Coetzee’s error. The goal got the home crowd going in the capacity stadium.
Shinya Yajima beat Tebogo Moerane for pace in the 44th minute to give the hosts their second goal and Shoya Nakajima got his brace a minute later after beating Jody February to give the hosts a healthy 3-1 lead going into the break.
At half-time, coach ODG made four substitutions when February was replaced by Gumede, Malepe came on for Rikhotso and up front the Pirates duo of Masuku and Motupa were replaced by Moseamedi and Kutumela.
Gumede conceded his first goal in the 47th minute after a communication error in the South African defence to allow Takuma Asano to score the fourth goal for the hosts.
The two teams then exchange fierce raids thereafter but there was not going to be any additional goals as the match ended 4-1 in favour of the hosts.