Group A in the men’s soccer tournament stands out as the most captivating and fiercely contested group. There is a strong likelihood that the ultimate victor may emerge from within this group.
Mexico boasts a history of Olympic triumphs, France consistently possesses a roster of gifted athletes, and the tournament’s home nation, Japan, is brimming with motivation to attain unprecedented success on familiar turf. In the midst of these formidable contenders, South Africa emerges as a potential dark horse, poised to challenge the three front-runners.
The South African squad secured a respectable third-place finish in the 2019 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations, granting them entry to the 2020 Olympics. Back in 2016, they participated in the Olympics but struggled to secure any victories.
David Naughton, the head coach of the national team, is banking on a strong showing from his Olympic roster. However, he must place his faith in players hailing from local leagues, individuals who have yet to capture the attention of the global football audience. A triumphant performance could potentially propel some of these South African players into the spotlight of European football, as their talents become more widely recognized.
Here’s the group stage schedule:
- July 22, 11:00 am: Mexico takes on France.
- July 22, 14:00: Japan faces off against South Africa.
- July 25, 11:00 am: France hosts South Africa.
- July 25, 14:00: Japan hosts Mexico.
- July 28, 14:30: France goes head-to-head with Japan.
- July 28, 14:30: South Africa plays host to Mexico.
South Africa might be able to play in Japan. If they do, Luther Singh will almost certainly be a player who is noticed. He could be one of the tournament’s best players and has already been on the national team for his country and won a Golden Boot at the 2017 Africa Under-20 Cup of Nations.
Hailing from South Africa, Singh boasts prior experience in European football, having been a part of the Braga team. During the previous season, he showcased his prowess with an impressive tally of five goals and five assists while donning the Pasos de Ferreira jersey. In his leisure hours, Singh dedicates his time to hone his shooting skills, consistently delivering exceptional shots on goal.
- Goalkeepers: Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United), Mondli Mpoto (Bloemfontein Celtic), Sifiso Mlungwana (Golden Arrows).
- Defenders: Katleho Mohamm (Pretoria), Luke Fleurs (SuperSport United), Sibusiso Mabiliso (Amazulu), Abbubaker Mobara (Cape Town City), Tabiso Monyane (Orlando Pirates), Tersaiu Malepe (Minay).
- Midfielders: Teboho Mokoena (SuperSport United), Thabo Sele (Kaizer Chiefs), Nkosingile Ngcobo (Kaizer Chiefs), Sipho Mbule (SuperSport United), Goodman Mosele (Orlando Pirates), Kamohelo Mahlatsi (Moroka Swallows).
- Forwards: Fagri Lakai (Cape Town City), Luther Sing (Braga), Evidence Makgopa (Baroka), Lyle Foster (Vitoria Guimaraes), Kobamelo Kodisang (Braga B).
David Naughton has made a selection announcement, bringing in two notable additions to the South African squad. While goalkeeper Ronwen Williams may have limited experience, the inclusion of center-back Abbubaker Mobara significantly bolsters the team’s depth with his wealth of Olympic tournament experience.
During the 2016 Rio Olympics, Mobara showcased his prowess by featuring in every minute of play across all three group stage matches for Japan. Remarkably, he was 27 years old at the time, and his seasoned presence continues to offer valuable defensive stability for his team.