COSAFA rivals South Africa and Zambia go head-to-head in their second match at the Africa Under-23 Cup of Nations after both suffering opening day defeats in Senegal.
South Africa lost 3-1 to the hosts in Dakar, while Zambia were beaten 2-1 by north Africans Tunisia.
It makes Tuesday’s clash a do-or-die for both teams and for the loser, if there is to be one, the end of the Olympic dream.
South Africa coach Owen da Gama remains confident his side can progress to the knockout stages despite a shakey defence that was their downfall against Senegal.
“I don’t want to make excuses but we didn’t play to our best at all,” Da Gama said. “We will keep on working to leave our mark here. We created the first chances of this match but we couldn’t convert them.”
Da Gama says the defeat will have served as a learning curve for his side ahead of the challenges to come.
“I’m really proud of our performance despite of the defeat because most our players are young. Our main striker [Phakamani Mahlambi] was playing very deep but he’s only 18-years-old and he’s a new sensation in South Africa.
“We can still qualify from the group.”
Zambia coach Fighton Simukonda believes his side deserved more against Tunisia and says they are determined to take that frustration out on South Africa.
“The game was 50-50 but Tunisia used their last chance and they scored,” he said. “Otherwise, we could’ve also carried the day. We had about two or three chances which we missed.
“We had chances to score but at the end of day Tunisia were lucky and they scored. After losing today’s game, we’ve to go back to the drawing board and make sure that we win the two remaining games to be in contention.”
South Africa and Zambia need to finish in the top three in the Under-23 finals to reach the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next August.