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Khune heroics can't save SA Under-23's exit

2016-08-11 05:14
Itumeleng Khune (Getty)

Cape Town - South Africa and Iraq bowed out of the 2016 Men's Olympic Football tournament after playing to a 1-1 draw at Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo.

Amaglug-glug went into the encounter knowing that a strong performance was crucial if they were to book their place in the quarter-finals of the competition.

Owen da Gama’s charges got the breakthrough they were looking for six minutes into the first-half when Gift Motupa fired home from close range after Iraq failed to clear their lines.

However, the goal did little to dampen the spirit of the Iraq team, who went on to restore parity in the 14th minute. Luaibi bagged the all-important equaliser, shrugging off his marker before rising well to head home from Ali Adnan's inviting cross.

South Africa briefly threatened to reclaim the lead around the 20-minute mark, but Mothobi Mvala and skipper Keagan Dolly failed to find the mark with their respective efforts on goal.

The remainder of the first-half proved to be a one-sided affair, though, as Iraq created a whole host of goal-scoring chances.

Amjed Attwan and Ali Husni fired high and wide with respective shots from range, while Mohanad Abdul Raheem saw is goal-bound effort kept out by Itumeleng Khune in the South Africa goal.

However, their best chance of the half came in the 40th minute, when Adnan struck the right-hand post with a shot from the centre of the box.

They created two more opportunities as the first half drew to a close but Khune was alert to the danger, denying both Husni and Mahdi Kamil.

It was more of the same after the break as South Africa were forced to defend for large passages of play, while Iraq continued to create a healthy amount of chances.

The scoreline would remain unchanged, though, as both sides failed to find a cutting edge in front of goal.

Motupa and Andile Fikizolo went closest to firing South Africa back in front, while at the opposite end of the pitch, Saad Abdulameer saw his powerful effort come back off the post in the 55th minute.

Iraq again threatened to reclaim the lead on the hour mark, with Kamil seeing his goal-bound shot saved in centre of goal by Khune, but that was the last chance of note as Abdul-Ghani Shahad's men failed to make their chances count.

Amjed Attwan, Sherko Kareem and Humam Tariq failed to hit the mark in the closing stages of the contest, while Dhurgham Ismail saw his 88th-minute denied by Khune in the South Africa goal.

Brazil, who thumped Denmark 4-0 in a simultaneous game, progressed to the quarter-finals as Group A victors along with the Scandinavians.

Earlier in the tournament, the SA Under-23 side drew 0-0 with hosts Brazil and lost 1-0 to Denmark.

South Africa finished bottom of their group with two points from three matches.

Quarter-final line-up:

Portugal v Germany

Nigeria v Denmark

South Korea v Honduras

Brazil v Colombia

Teams:

South Africa

Khune, Mekoa, Mobara, Malepe, Coetzee, Mvala, Ntshangase, Dolly (Morris 83'), Fikizolo (Modiba 61'), Masuku (Kutumela 59'), Motupa

Iraq

Hameed, Ibrahim, Adnan, Abdulraheem, Kamil, Hisny, Natiq, Ismael, Luaibi, Ali, Attwan

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