South Africa Under-23 side Amagluglug joined Egypt and the Ivory Coast as the three African representatives at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games with a 6-5 penalty shoot-out victory against Ghana at the 2019 Africa Under-23 Cup of Nations played at the Cairo International Stadium on Friday.
South Africa goalkeeper Mondli Mpoto was the hero saving two penalties after the third-place play off had ended in a 2-2 stalemate as David Notoane’s side booked their ticket to the Tokyo Olympic Games.
South Africa should have themselves to blame if they had faltered at the last stage after spurning many goal scoring opportunities in ordinary time but they will however take pride in that they managed to get over the line qualifying for back-to-back Olympics following their appearance in 2016.
Ghana twice came from behind in regulation time to force the match to a dreaded penalty shootout.
Ghana had a kick to win the shoot-out that was blazed high over the crossbar by Edward Sarpong, and outstanding goalkeeper Mpoto made him pay with two saves as 16 kicks were needed to get a winner.
South African players and coaches hugged each other while many Ghanaians slumped to the ground and wept in an ironic and classic display of the victors and the defeated.
This was sweet revenge and perhaps a consolation by South Africa for the victory inflicted on Bafana Bafana by Ghana in the 2021 Afcon qualifiers a week ago just as Egypt claimed sweet revenge on Amagluglug on behalf of their senior counterparts who lost to South Africa at the last 16 stage in July at the same venue to bow out of Afcon which they were hosting.
South Africa settled for bronze but there is exciting prospects for the future in this Under-23 side as they make the transition to Bafana Bafana looking to impress at the Tokyo Games.
Africa has claimed five Olympics football medals with Nigeria winning gold, silver and bronze, Cameroon gold and Ghana bronze.
Qualifiers are restricted to under-23 footballers, but the 16 finalists can include three over-age players, opening the possibility of Egypt choosing Mohamed Salah as an Olympic football medal is highly coveted and treasured in a footballer’s trophy cabinet.
By Gerald Dandah