Two quick goals early in both halves was enough to put the SA U23 side’s Olympic dream on hold as they went down 2-0 to Algeria in the semi-final of the CAF U23 Africa Cup of National Tournament on Wednesday.
The match took place at Stade Leopold Senghor in Dakar, Senegal.
“We created a few chances early in the first half but we did not take them, I guess it is part of football, if you don’t take your chances you don’t win games. They got the early goal, not sure about what happened there, but after that we just could not get into the game. Credit must go to Algeria because they played and defended very well. We just had a bad night at the office,” said SA u23 captain Keagan Dolly.
“The boys are very disappointed because things didn’t go our way tonight, but we have to pick ourselves up as we still have another opportunity to qualify, and another opportunity to get back at Senegal who beat us in the first match. We really wanted a win and we all know it should not have come to this, but that is football.”
South Africa will face hosts Senegal in the third/fourth place play off to determine who joins Nigeria and Algeria on the plane to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year.
“We all need to focus on one thing, we need to know that this is important for our lives and our careers, so we need to focus on the upcoming game and forget about the loss. We all have the same goal, we all want to go to Rio and, as I said, the boys are really disappointed with the outcome so I know they will come back fighting,” added Dolly.
Senegal defeated South Africa 3-2 in the opening match of the tournament (Saturday, 28 November) at the same venue where they will meet again.
“In the first game we did not have all our players, and now that everyone is on board I believe the boys look better and sharper. We are now used to our surroundings and the pitch, so we will give it our best. We picked ourselves up after the first loss and won two games in a row, I think with the character and quality in this team, the boys will bounce back and give their all against Senegal to qualify for Rio. It’s the most crucial 90 minutes for all of us, said Dolly.
South Africa and Senegal meet at 16h00 (18h00 South African time) at Stade Leopold Senghor, while Algeria and Nigeria will contest the final at 19h00 (21h00 South African time).
The South Africans are expected back in the country on Monday evening (14 December 2015).