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SA’s Tough U23 AFCON Start ‘Group Of Derbies’

South Africa’s U23 coach, David Notoane, has spoken on the tough group his side faces for the U23 Africa Cup of Nations tournament. 

The SA U23 men’s national team has been drawn in a tough Group B of the tournament, which is scheduled to take place in Egypt from 8-22 November 2019.

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As confirmed from the South African Football Association, following the draw that took place in Alexandria in Egypt on Wednesday, Notoane’s side will face Cote d’Ivoire, Zambia, as well as defending champions Nigeria in their group. 

In Group A, tournament hosts Egypt have been drawn against Mali, and debutants Cameroon and Ghana. 

“I am happy with the draw, eight good teams – eight very tough teams. It doesn’t really matter which group you are in because it was always going to be good groups. Our group – I call it the group of derbies; the other group maybe the group of death with hosts Egypt and three West African countries. I am happy the first game will be against Zambia our neighbours, a team that we know very well. Then the last game we play Nigeria – current champions. I couldn’t ask for anything better,” said Notoane, as quoted on SAFA’s official website. 

Read: Middendorp’s Assessment Of Chiefs Young Star On Debut 

Meanwhile, SAFA confirmed: 

“Group A will play their games at the Cairo International Stadium and Group B at the Al Salam Stadium. The top three teams at the tournament will qualify to represent Africa at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo,” confirmed SAFA on their official website. 

“South Africa kick-start their campaign with a clash against neighbours Zambia on Saturday, 9 November, followed by the defending champions Nigeria three days later (Tuesday, 12 November). The last fixture in the group stages is against Ivory Coast on Friday, 15 November,” SAFA confirmed.

Read: SAFA Confirm Appointment Of Another Coach! 

“Under Owen da Gama, South Africa finished among the top three in the AFCON held in Senegal to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. The Total U23 Africa Cup of Nations is held every four years and showcases some of African football’s emerging talents while also acting as a qualifier for the Summer Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. In attendance at the draw were CAF Executive Committee member Ahmed Yahya, Egyptian Minister of Youth and Sports, Ashraf Sobhy, Members of the Normalisation Committee of the Egyptian Football Association and representatives of the qualified teams, including South Africa’s head coach Notoane.

“Host Egypt and holders Nigeria were named top seeds for the draw. The two teams, together with South Africa, are the three teams to have qualified for every edition of the tournament since its inception in 2011. Based on the ranking of the teams from the previous editions, South Africa and Mali were in Pot 1 whilst Zambia, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon found themselves in Pot 2.

Group A:

Egypt, Mali, Cameroon, Ghana

Group B:

Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, South Africa, Zambia 

SA U23 AFCON Fixtures: 

Saturday, 9 November vs Zambia

Tuesday, 12 November vs Nigeria

Friday, 15 November vs Ivory Coast 

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