South Africa began their Olympic Games campaign with a 1-0 defeat to hosts Japan on Thursday afternoon.
Olympic Group A
Result: Japan U23 1-0 South Africa U23
Date: 22 July 2021
Venue: Ajinomoto Stadium
Kaizer Chiefs full-back Reeve Frosler was thrown straight into the line-up despite only joining up with the squad on Tuesday while Baroka star Evidence Makgopa led the attack.
Japan, who featured the highly-rated Takefusa Kubo, dominated from the onset and the Real Madrid winger was presented with the first real opening on 15 minutes but he could only fire into the side-netting.
After more dominance from Japan, Ronwen Williams came to South Africa's rescue on 30 minutes as the SuperSport United shot-stopper produced a superb stop to deny Koji Miyoshi in a one-on-one situation.
Daichi Hayashi had the ball in the back of the net a few minutes with a close-range finish from Roan's cross, but the celebrations were cut short due to the offside flag.
Williams had to be at his best once again between the sticks 10 minutes after the halftime break to deny Hayashi from point-blank range as Japan's frustration began to grow.
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The host nation eventually got their reward and it fell to Kubo, who did well to create space before curling the ball into the far corner with 20 minutes left on the clock.
South Africa were carved out a rare chance to get back on level terms on 77 minutes after Thabo Cele was picked out in the box, but the midfielder could only fire straight at goalkeeper Kosei Tani from 12-yards out.
Coach David Notoane finally made his first change two minutes later as Sporting Braga midfielder Kobamelo Kodisang replaced Frosler for the final 10 minutes of the encounter.
The South Africans did manage to make a couple entries into the final third in the latter stages, but they were unable to trouble the Japan goal as the hosts held on for the win.
Here's how they started:
South Africa: Williams, Malepe, Fleurs, Mukumela, Frosler, Mosele, Mokoena, Mabiliso, Singh, Cele, Makgopa.
Subs: Mpoto, Mlungwana, Mahlangu, Mohamme, Ngcobo, Kodisang.