South Africa qualified for the Rio de janeiro Olympic Games after beating Senegal 3-1 on penalties in their Africa Under-23 Cup of Nations third-place play-off that ended 0-0 in Dakar on Saturday.
SAFA President, Dr Danny Jordaan immediately sent a congratulatory message to the boys in Senegal.
“This has been an extraordinary year for our national teams,” said the SAFA President who rushed from the SAFA Congress at the Sandton Convention Centre to see the boys seal yet another place for South Africa at the 2016 Rio Olympics after Banyana Banyana.
“Wow, what can I say apart from congratulating coach Owen da Gama and the boys. This has been some year for our national teams starting from Bafana Bafana, U23, Banyana Banyana, U20 (Amajita), U17 (Amajimbos) and our U20 women’s national team which just missed next year’s World Cup finals in Papua Guinea on the very last match.
“Now, everyone can see what we mean by Vision 2022 when it comes to preparing winning teams both on the continent and globally.
“We as SAFA have just announced a huge profit of over R40 million at the 25th SAFA Congress on Saturday and now our U23 side has just put the icing on the cake with this marvellous result. Take a bow Owen and the boys,” said SAFA President.
The hero for the U23 side was none other goalkeeper Jody February who made numerous stunning saves including several penalty kicks and will wake up tomorrow to some screaming headlines from the media and members of the public.
Gift Motupa could have given South Africa a fifth minute lead but his effort was well saved by the Senegalese keeper who tipped it for a corner.
As the match swung from one end to the other, goalkeeper Jody February made a crucial save on the 16th minute.
In the 44th minute, Mahlambi could have opened the scoring for South Africa when Owen da Gama’s side earned a free kick on the edge of the box but the Senegalese keeper made another brilliant save.
Motupa evaded his marker again in the 49th minute after being put through by Mahlambi but again shot wide as he continued to struggle to replicate his outstanding form against Zambia where he scored a glorious double.
On the other end, February again denied Senegal a clear goal when he rushed out of his area to make another good save.
As the game opened up, both sides missed some clear chances as both sides chased the elusive winner.
Senegal were awarded a penalty in the 73rd minute and Mousa Keita’s effort was brilliantly saved by the outstanding February as the follow-up hit the upright.
The match then went to penalties where the Ajax Cape Town keeper stole the show.
The South African women’s side also qualified for the Olympics along with their Zimbabwean counterparts to ensure COSAFA would have three teams competing in Rio.