SAFA : Senong and Malepe join the Olympic team in Brasilia, four still to come
The South African u23 Men’s National Team assistant coach, Thabo Senong, and defender Tercious Malepe, have joined their compatriots in the capital of Brazil, Brasilia.
The duo remained behind in South Africa to help the South African u20 Men’s National Team (Amajita) qualify for the CAF u20 Africa Cup of Nations with Senong as coach and Malepe captain, where they beat Lesotho 5-0 on aggregate to book their spot in the continental showpiece scheduled for early next year in Zambia.
The pair had to cut short their celebrations with the youth team and immediately fly more than 10 hours to join Olympic Games preparations with the u23 squad.
Upon arrival in Brasilia, Malepe reflected on his rollercoaster career.
“You know life is funny. Less than three months ago my team (Moroka Swallows) was relegated from the national first division and a few days after that I was called up to the Amajita squad. Now I am capped at u20, u23 and Bafana Bafana level and find myself at the world’s biggest sporting event. We have also just qualified for the u20 AFCON and I was part of the 2016 COSAFA Cup-winning squad in Namibia. That is just unbelievable,” said Malepe with a smile.
“There are no words to describe my feelings, I guess it is the power of the Lord Almighty. I am here to make my mark and build on the glory that has being bestowed upon me. I am also happy to see my other teammates and cannot wait to for the Games to begin.”
Malepe’s arrival means only four players are still to report for national team duty.
Keagan Dolly and Lebo Mothiba are expected to arrive in Brasilia on Thursday, 28 July, while Itumeleng Khune and Erick Mathoho will land on Wednesday, 3 August.
Dolly will feature for his club Mamelodi Sundowns in a CAF Champions League clash tonight (Wednesday, 27 July), while Mothiba was away on pre-season training with his French club Lille FC.
The Kaizer Chiefs duo of Mathoho and Khune will play in this weekend’s (Saturday, 30 July) Soweto derby against Orlando Pirates in the 2016 Carling Black Label Champions Cup.
Owen da Gama’s side will face hosts Brazil in their opening match of the 2016 Olympic Games on Thursday, 4 August at the Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia.