South Africa U23 secure Olympic spot with win over Senegal

South Africa secured the continent’s final ticket for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games after beating host Senegal 3-1 on penalties in the third-place match on Saturday in Dakar.

Goalkeeper Jody February was the hero for his side, pulling three saves to deny the unlucky host country the opportunity for a successive appearance at the quadrennial multisport event after the 2012 edition in London.

After a barren draw in regulation time, the 19-year old shot stopper, who was only four years the last time South Africa qualified for the Olympic Games at the 2000 edition in Sydney, Australia, rose to the occasion thanks to his agility to end the tournament on a high.

February saved the kicks of Sylvain Badji, Elhadji Pape Diaw and Sidy Sarr whilst Gift Motupa and Menzi Masuku converted their strikes before Phakamani Mahlambi scored the decider during the shoot-out marked by misses from both ends.

Earlier in the second half, February denied Moussa Wague from the spot with a fisted effort in a chance that could have settled the game in normal time.

The host had several chances during the game but failed to convert them during the balanced affair in both halves.

As early as the fifth minute, Motupa saw his goal bound effort saved by Senegal goalie Papae Ndiaye, who gave a good account of himself during the encounter. Just before half time, Ndiaye was to his side’s rescue with a fine save off a Mahlambi rebound from a free-kick.

On 72 minutes, February was adjudged to have fouled Ismaila Sarr for a penalty and he made amend by saving Wague’s shot from the shot distance.

South Africa thus joins Nigeria and Algeria as Africa’s representatives for the 2016 Olympic Games.

– Caf Online

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