Once again, our beloved South African team has an opportunity to leave a long lasting mark in one of the biggest sporting events in the world. The Rio Olympics are just weeks away, and the final preparations are well in order as coach Owen Da Gama rounds up the loose ends. Will our young men be able to make their country proud and surpass the heroics of the U23 side back in 2000, or will we be singing the same, sad song?
Looking back at the team that took to the 2000 Summer Olympics that were held in Sydney, Australia, with the likes of Emile Baron in goals and the formidable attack of a young Benni McCarthy supported by Manchester United's Quinton Fortune and VfL Bochum's Delron Buckley, under the mentorship of current Bafana Bafana head coach Ephraim "Shakes" Mashaba, there was no doubt we had a well-structured and powerful force going into the Olympics.
Taking to Group D, facing teams such as Brazil, Japan and Slovakia proved a tough task for the young South African team in trying to make it past the group stages, which they ultimately failed to do, although they put in some good performances, the most notable of which was a 3-1 win over a Brazil team that included a certain Ronaldinho.
This year, we have another team taking to the Olympics. As we embark on our journey to Brazil, we take with us a youthful squad with a possible three overage players who will, by all means, try their best to progress s afar as possible in the tournament.
Looking at the squad, Da Gama might want to add a more experienced goalkeeper to assist the young Jody February, as was done back in 2000, when Brian Baloyi was brought in. Rumours have been making the rounds that Itumeleng Khune could be the man to make the team, which could be expected as he is one of the best between the poles in South Africa. Other overage players who could be included are Andile Jali and Erick Mathoho.
Those would be some great selections, but we have to ask: What about the striking department? Wouldn't it be wise to add the talented Kermit Erasmus to the mix? Only time will tell as to who makes the final cut…
Who do you think should be added as the overaged players in the SA U23 squad for the Olympics?