South Africa Under-23 coach Owen da Gama says he is looking beyond Zimbabwe after watching his side dismantle a visiting Rwanda team 2-0 in a practice game at UJ Stadium this week.
It was the perfect build-up to the return leg of their 2015 CAF Under-23 Championship qualifier against the Zimbabweans that is evenly poised after a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Harare a fortnight ago.
Two first half goals by in form Keagan Dolly, who also netted against Zimbabwe, and Siphiwe Khambule gave Da Gama’s high fliers a perfect night as the bigger and older Rwandans chased shadows the whole evening.
“This was an almost perfect showing from the boys; they are gelling at the right time ahead of Saturday’s game and I am impressed by the all-round performance of most of the players,” he said.
“I am looking beyond Zimbabwe and the 8-Nation tournament in Senegal. It has been a while since South Africa were last at the Olympics and I think this team has what it takes to go all the way.
“They are showing hunger, purpose and determination to achieve something for the country and their careers,” he added.
The side play Zimbabwe on Saturday night at Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg at 20h15.
“I don’t want to dwell on the Zimbabwe game at Rufaro; that was the first half, now we are heading into the final critical phase on Saturday and I am relishing the prospect of that game.”
Da Gama has also praised the Premier Soccer League for releasing all the players he needs for the second leg.
“I would like to thank the entire PSL set up and in particular the clubs that released their players, the chairman of the league and our Technical Director Neil Tovey for ensuring we have all the material we need for the second leg,” said Da Gama.
Also in action from COSAFA are Zambia, who host Ivory Coast with their tie locked at 0-0.
The top three teams at the 2015 CAF Under-23 Championships in Senegal starting on November 28 will represent Africa at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year.