Zimbabwe’s National Under-23 head coach, Tonderayi Ndiraya, applauded South Africa’s National Under-23 side for their qualification to this year’s U-23 Africa Cup of Nations, adding that they were a better team in this round of AFCON qualifiers than his side.
South Africa progressed to this year’s U-23 AFCON football tournament after beating Zimbabwe 5-0 on aggregate.
Both sides played to a 0-0 draw in the second leg tie, following South Africa’s impressive 5-0 win in the first leg on 8 September at Orlando Stadium.
South Africa now joins hosts Egypt, Zambia, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Mali – all of whom will compete for a top three finish in this year’s quadrennial U-23 AFCON tournament.
Top three finishers of this year’s U-23 AFCON scheduled to run from 8 – 22 November, will automatically earn a spot in next year’s Tokyo Olympic games.
“I would like to congratulate South Africa for qualifying for this year’s AFCON tournament,” Ndiraya said.
“They gave a good account of themselves in both legs of this round. You could tell that this team has been playing together for a long time by just how they gelled together on the pitch. The coach told me that some of these boys have been playing together since 2014 (Under-17 level) in both COSAFA and AFCON tournaments.
“This tells you that they had a long term plan building up to this tournament and I would like to commend them on that. They have proven that nothing beats thorough preparation.”
South Africa’s National Under-23 coach, David Notoane, stated that it was crucial for his side not to come into this tie thinking that is was going to be a walk in the park, based on first leg performance.
Notoane warned that attitude was going to work against them, however, added that he is pleased with how his charges responded on the pitch.
“We knew that it was going to be a difficult match going into this second leg match,” Notoane said.
“Zimbabwe played with more numbers in their attacking third and we had to manage that. I am also glad with how the boys responded to demands of this game. They managed the pressure really well. We are happy with the result and we are also looking forward to our group fixtures going into this year’s U-23 AFCON tournament”.