Hoffman laments U23 situation

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Former SA U23 Steve Hoffman has bemoaned the possible inclusion of over-age players in the Olympics squad.

All eyes will be on U23 coach David Notoane sometime next year when he announces the team to represent South Africa in Tokyo, Japan.

South Africa, who will be making their third appearance in the tournament, will be accompanied by Egypt and Ivory Coast in an African mission to conquer the world.

In their maiden qualification, in 2000, coach Ephraim Mashaba included Brian Baloyi and Dumisa Ngobe as his over-age players.

The SA U23 squad from the 2000 Olympics.

In 2016 Owen Da Gama brought along Erick Mathoho and Itumeleng Khune who ended up playing all the games.

Trusted goalminder, Jody February, watched from the bench as his dream of playing in the Olympics faded like mist.

Hoffman, who made way for Khune in the final squad, although he was in the camp for warm up matches, says old folks should not be included in the Olympics team.

“I was so disappointed. You won’t even imagine how disappointed I was. But at the end of the day they made a decision – nothing I could do about it,” Hoffman tells FARPost.co.za.

“All I do could do was to focus on myself and my game. I was very disappointed. It would have been nice to go overseas in Brazil, to play in the Olympics,” says Hoffman.

While Notoane might still be contemplating on over-age players to call up, his Egyptian counterpart, Shawky Gharib, has left it to Liverpool star striker Mohamed Salah to make up his mind.

“The Olympics is an U/23 tournament. I understand you are allowed to have over 23’s but why do it?

“If a team wanted Itu Khune overseas, he wouldn’t have left because he is comfortable at Chiefs. He is the captain, he is comfortable, he is at home, he is earning a good salary. He doesn’t have to go anywhere,” Hoffman argued.

“His life is sorted. Sticking a guy, a youngster on the field even if the team (is not winning), I’m a patriotic South African and I want the team to do well, but let us do well with youngsters, right aged players.

“We have over enough good U/23 players. Jody February went there. He was a starting keeper throughout the Olympic qualifiers but he didn’t start even one game in the tournament. I was hoping he could get a game because he is a good goalkeeper. Unfortunately he didn’t. Khune played all the games and he did well. But it’s a platform for young players to get exposure. ”

Hoffman (25), who featured for Bidvest Wits as a 17-year-old under Roger De Sa, hasn’t kicked the ball since he left Platinum Stars at the end of 2017/2018 season. He has tried his luck in different clubs with no success.

“It’s tough in South African football, especially as a goalkeeper. You go there, you have to compete. By competing in another club, you have to be extremely better than the other keeper. They won’t waste their money, signing a keeper who is almost good as you. Things haven’t been going well for me. Ever since Platinum Stars got relegated, I struggled to find a team.

“I was at Steenburg, Jomo Cosmos, spoke to every PSL team, every GladAfrica team. No one has shown interest,” Hoffman concluded.

Innocent Ngwenya

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