With the SA U23 side kickstarting their Africa Cup of Nations campaign on Saturday, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has urged South Africans to rally behind the team.
SA will take on neighbours Zambia in their opening Group B match the Al Salam Stadium, Egypt, at 20:00 SA time.
Mosimane says the country should come first before club interests.
“It’s important that we support them to take the team to the Olympic Games – it is very key. That is why we have Keletso (Makgalwa) who could have easily played (against Baroka), but we released him so he can go help us with the U23,” said Mosimane.
“It is an important programme for the country, so we have to support, and David Notoane is our coach, so we all have to support him together with the players.
“It would have been nice to have Keletso to come on in a game like this, but the nation comes first. We need to support the country because the Olympic Games are important for the country neh,” said the 2016 CAF Coach of the Year.
A top three finish will ensure South Africa a spot to represent the African continent at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
This will be South Africa’s third participation in the tournament, having played in 2011 and 2015, the latter earning them a spot at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games after finishing in third position under former coach Owen Da Gama.
They have been drawn in Group B alongside Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Zambia.
By Ofhani Munyai