Draw with Zimbabwe secures SA berth in U23 Africa Cup of Nations
SA have secured their spot at the 2019 Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations and taken a step closer to qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after a 0-0 draw with Zimbabwe at the Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo on Tuesday.
The result sees coach David Notoane’s side reach the continental showpiece following a 5-0 aggregate win having thumped Zimbabwe in the first leg to all but secure their passage.
They will now take part in the November 8–22 finals in Egypt‚ where a top three place would see SA secure a return to the Olympics following their 2016 showing in Brazil.
But Notoane will already be sweating over the composition of his squad with the Fifa international window from November 11-19 covering most‚ but not all‚ of the African competition.
Notoane made five changes for the second leg with such a healthy advantage‚ bringing in Latvia-based defender Kabelo Seriba‚ Siyabonga Ngezana‚ overseas-based wingers Khanya Leshabela and Gift Links‚ and forward Jemondre Dickens.
It took until the 20th minute for the first real opening for SA as Links unleashed a long-range shot that was well-saved by the home keeper.
Juan Mutudza flashed a free-kick over the bar for Zimbabwe‚ and then forced an excellent stop from Mondli Mpoto in the South African goal as he came close to the opener from a header.
Both goalkeepers were under-worked in the second period too – Mpoto did well to block a shot from Zimbabwe striker Prince Dube‚ once on the books of SuperSport United.
Home forward Romario Matova also headed over when well placed‚ but neither side could find a goal in the closing stages‚ with South Africa happy to take the draw.