On Sunday, November 28, 2015, the second edition of Africa U-23 Cup of Nations kicks off with the “Teranga Lions” of Senegal (hosts) facing South Africa at the LSS Stadium, Dakar.
A football spectacle is highly expected since both teams will want to register a positive beginning to their campaign that will qualify three African representative teams for the Olympic Games 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
There are high expectations on the ‘Les Lionceaux’ after recent greta performances by the U-20 team at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand few months ago, where they gained fourth place and the qualification of the senior team Teranga Lions reaching the final round of the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifiers, thanks to a 3-0 win over Madagascar few weeks ago. It is worth noting that “Les Lionceaux” won the regional West Zone A football Tournament competed for by Liberia, Guinea Bissau and The Gambia.
The stakes are high for Serigne Saliou Dia and his charges following the success story of the U-20 side guided by Joseph Koto, which reached the final of the continental championship last March on home soil, which has since raised the enthusiasm of the local faithful. They have great support from the home fans and will be hoping to capitalize on this support to achieve a positive start to their campaign.
“We expect a very difficult game. South Africa has a very technical team with talented players. It’s a team that has a lot of experience. It will be a very difficult match.
“It will be very complicated for us. We will face a very technical team, and we don’t have to give them space,” Dia said at the pre-match press conference.
South Africa will be without two key players, Gift Motupa and Menzi Masuku, who are on duty with their club, Orlando Pirates in the final of the Orange CAF Confederation Cup against Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel on Sunday. These players are expected to join the team in Senegal on Monday immediately after the final, but Owen da Gama is hoping their absence will serve no obstacle.
“Senegal is a very difficult team to play, perhaps the best team of the tournament. I expect all players to join us by Monday,” said da Gama.
Tunisia will face Zambia in the other Group A match later on Match day one also at the Leopold Sedar Senghor Stadium, Dakar.