Da Gama rues Mathoho absence

2016-08-11 13:38
Erick Mathoho (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - South Africa under-23 coach Owen da Gama believes Erick Mathoho's absence was the reason they were unable to beat Iraq and were knocked out of the Olympics.

Da Gama's charges came into their final group fixture needing a win with two notable injuries in Mathoho and striker Lebohang Mothiba, which the former Platinum Stars coach believes made a massive difference in their encounter at the Corinthians Arena.

"I think from a defensive point of view we missed Mathoho," he said at the post-match press conference.

"I think he is our strongest player in the air at the back, and you know the Iraqi game is based on the long ball, and aerial balls."

Despite taking the lead in the 12th minute via a Gift Motupa strike, South Africa constantly looked under threat with the Asian outfit hitting the woodwork three time.

"We had to negate that situation and unfortunately Mathoho was not there. But I think Tercious Malepe, one of the youngest players in this tournament, I think he put up a brave performance," Da Gama added.

Bafana assistant coach Thabo Senong echoed Da Gama's sentiments lamenting the loss of Lille forward Mothiba.

"Injuries always upset the team, we missed Lebo Mothiba upfront which would have allowed us to play Gift Motupa in the midfield, where he is really creative. We wanted to play with two strikers; unfortunately Menzi Masuku was floating all over the place and was not as effective as we wanted him to be," Senong said.

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