Olympics football: South Africa punished for mistakes – Notoane

The 52-year-old tactician reveals his sadness at losing all his matches in Tokyo but says the boys have picked up lessons

South Africa coach David Notoane has admitted they are disappointed after they failed to reach the next stage of the Tokyo Olympic Games on Wednesday.

The African side ended their journey in the competition on the worst note after losing 3-0 against Mexico in their final Group A match at the Sapporo Dome.

Goals from Ernesto Vega (18th minute) and Luis Romo (45), as well as Henry Martin’s strike on the hour mark, condemned South Africa to end their sorry campaign since they had also been beaten 1-0 by Japan before falling 4-3 to France.

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“Overall we are all of us disappointed to be out of the tournament but I think we can take a lot of lessons out of this game today [Wednesday], and out of this tournament going forward in terms of how mistakes are being punished at this level,” Notoane told the media after the game.

“Nonetheless, the boys gave it their best effort under very difficult conditions and circumstances in this Tokyo Olympics.

“We just now have to dust ourselves off and face the South African public in terms of having disappointed them in terms of their expectations of us from the games.

“So we have to show a lot of emotions and maturity and of course be accountable for the results that we faced here in Tokyo and hopefully the boys will graduate and take this experience to Bafana Bafana as we strive to make Bafana Bafana a better team in the future.”

Notoane, however, blamed his players for conceding easy goals against Mexico which proved difficult for them to recover in the game.

“Today [Wednesday] against Mexico, it was very disappointing especially in the first half, our defensive mistakes never gave us any hope or any chance of having a shout towards qualification to the next round, a 2-0 defeat going into the break it was far off from us,” Notoane continued.

“We were not really in the game, we didn’t really push Mexico, they really pushed us and we knew that we were playing against a very efficient team, a team that is well organised in their patterns of play in attack, a team that was very strong breaking down the middle and we made those two mistakes from centre areas.

“In the second half, we managed to get a bit of life into the boys, a bit of self-belief in the boys to try to get back into the game and unfortunately we conceded the third goal, so it was a difficult evening, not much in the legs of the boys after the France game [of course, a game that took a lot from us] and it showed today.”

On the overall tournament, Notoane said: “I think for me, it was a fantastic opportunity to be here, a lot of important lessons learned, on and off the pitch and I hope it is the same for the boys, as well and I am sure of that, young players so they can only grow from here going forward.

“We also wish Mexico the best of luck going into the other stage of the tournament and I think it is a team capable of going all the way.

“For us, as we make our way back home, we would like to take this opportunity to thank team SA for having brought us here for looking after us and despite all the challenges we faced off the pitch, we are going home united as we came and we look forward to the next tournaments, and thanks for being with us.”

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