Newly-appointed Notoane describes first challenge as ‘closed book’

David Notoane
addressing the players; image taken from sowetanlive.co.za.

The newly-appointed men’s national Under-23 football team, formerly known as Amaglug-glug, David Notoane has described the Angola Under-23 team which he will face as his first opponents – in a Tokyo Olympic Games qualifier later this month – as a “closed book.”

Notoane was appointed as the Under-23 team interim coach on Wednesday, and says he and his technical team know very little of their opponents thanks to their last qualifier against Namibia being cancelled, which gave them automatic passage to meet South Africa, who will visit them on Friday, the 22nd of March in the tie’s first leg, before the Angolans head down to our shores on Tuesday the 26th. But the Mamelodi Sundowns MultiChoice Diski Challenge (MDC) team coach says what they do know is that Angolans at the national level are generally “physically very strong” and “very athletic”.

“Also, they are people who have arrogance, who fight; so that gives us direction in terms of what to expect, the kind of players to expect. Tactically, a lot of the time you’ll find that their defence is very strong; so we have an idea of the culture of football in Angola even though we don’t have the details of their Under-23 team as yet because we haven’t seen them play, but I think by March 22 we’ll have all of that information,” Notoane explains.

The Under-23 team, which has been out of action for a long time, will meet either Zimbabwe or the winner of the the qualifier between Mozambique and eSwatini in the next round of qualifiers, should they advance past Angola. They will then advance to an eight-team tournament which will be hosted by Egypt in November this year, should they also win that qualifier. The top three teams in Egypt will represent the continent at next year’s Olympic Games in Japan.

The 50-year-old coach says he is confident his new team will do well in these qualifiers, given their experience at international level. He says a majority of the players who will make up the team will be those who have graduated from the Under-20 team (Amajita) which played at the 2017 Under-20 World Cup in the Korea Republic, as well as those who have competed at the highest level in the Under-17 team (Amajimbos) in the last few years.

“Most of them are still playing [for their respective clubs]; players such as Teboho Mokoena, Sipho Mbule (both SuperSport United), players such as Tendo Mukumela, who at the moment is in the National First Division at Ajax Cape Town, Grant Magerman (also Ajax). So, I think if we take the team that comes from the Under-20 World Cup, going forward and selecting the players who stood out, we’ll have a hugely talented team, and I think we’ll be able to show that South Africa can continue with what (former coach) Owen Da Gama started by qualifying for the Olympics (in 2016).”