South Africa’s men’s under 23 football side will go to the Tokyo Olympics with five of their original squad missing, after the group withdrew from the games due to medical reasons, SAFA said.
The quintet are Lyle Foster, Fagrie Lakay, Abbubaker Mobara, Sipho Mbule and Keletso Makgalwa, and will need to be replaced in the squad with just 10 days to go before the football event at the Games begin.
SAFA said on the weekend: “South Africa u23 Olympic Team has suffered a huge blow following the withdrawal of five players due to various medical reasons.
“The changes in the camp comes a week after SASCOC announced the final U23 Men’s Olympic squad for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Games to take place from 22 July – 8 August 2021.”
This blow comes on the back of veteran midfielder Percy Tau being denied his presence in Tokyo, as his club Brighton and Hove Albion in the English Premier League said he had to report for preseason training instead.
U23 coach David Notoane was quoted by the Brighton and Hove Independent: “It is off-season, some of the players were really willing and committed to the process when we started.
“But you find out there are a lot of issues the players had to navigate. The issue of the foreign-based players like Percy Tau, the club wrote that they are not going to release him.
“These clubs are not obliged as per Fifa rules to release these players, hence we are allowed to register 50 players. So clubs are taking advantage of that situation. We tried to engage them, negotiate and navigate.”
Tau was originally named as one of the allowed overage players in the squad, but will instead report for training in Scotland ahead of the new Premier League season in mid-August.
South Africa are in group A with Japan, Mexico, and France, and will face the hosts on July 22 at a fanless Tokyo Stadium.