Bafana Bafana

Mental strength is key - Da Gama

2015-11-25 07:53
Owen Da Gama (Supplied)

Cape Town - South Africa Under-23 coach Owen da Gama knows there is a lot at stake as the last time South Africa qualified for the Olympic Games was back in 2000 under Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim Mashaba.

Amaglug-glug has completed their CAF Under-23 African Cup of Nations preparations and departed for Senegal on Tuesday, November 24 for the tournament.

The eight-nation event runs from November 28 to December 12 and the top three will qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

“It is history for us and the players know it,” said Da Gama after the squad’s training session at Eldorado Park earlier today.

“Should things go our way then the players they will go down in history as the second South African team to have qualified for the Olympic Games.

“The fact that we have reached a tournament of the best on the continent already means a lot and is something to smile about.

“We are carrying the national flag and we have to do it for the 52 million South Africans, and these players are proud to be doing that for the nation

For Da Gama’s charges to do well, mental strength will be key.

“In our last camp the theme was about mental strength. We have prepared them for the worst possible scenario in Senegal

“These boys have proven that intimidation does not work with them. They are also streetwise because they come from difficult backgrounds and understand all these things.

“They have played on fields without grass, in extreme heat and anything you can think of. So we just have to go there and compete and do our best,” added Da Gama.

South Africa is in Group A with the hosts Senegal, as well as Zambia and Tunisia.

Amaglug-glug’s opening match will be against Senegal on Saturday, November 28 at the Leopold Stadium in Dakar.

Kickoff is at 17:00 (SA time).

“This is the last feeder team to Bafana Bafana, and it is also an opportunity for our boys to get international experience so that when they get to Bafana Bafana they don’t struggle, and it is not a cultural shock when they travel to other countries,” said Da Gama.

“We don’t want to offer any excuses, we going to this tournament as best prepared as possible and it is important to understand the bigger picture beyond the tournament

South Africa U23 AFCON fixtures:

Saturday, November 28

Senegal vs South Africa

Léopold Senghor Stadium (Senegal)

15:00 (17:00 SA Time)

Tuesday, December 1

South Africa vs Zambia

Léopold Senghor Stadium (Senegal)

15:00 (17:00 SA Time)

Saturday, December 4

South Africa vs Tunisia

Caroline Faye Stadium (Senegal)

15:00 (17:00 SA Time)

Wednesday, December 9

Semi-Finals:

Léopold Senghor Stadium (Senegal)

15:00 and 18:30 (17:00 and 20:30 SA Time)

Saturday, December 12

3rd-Place Playoffs:

Léopold Senghor Stadium (Senegal)

15:00 (17:00 SA Time)

Final:

Léopold Senghor Stadium (Senegal)

19:00 (21:00 SA Time)

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