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Notoane: We're playing for our pride against Mexico

South Africa U-23 coach David Notoane

South Africa head coach David Notoane says they will play for pride when they take on Mexico in their final Group A encounter at the Tokyo Olympic Games on Wednesday.

The South African national team got their campaign off to a rocky start following their 1-0 defeat to hosts Japan in their opening Group A clash at Tokoyo Stadium last Thursday.

Notoane's side then conceded back-to-back defeats when they fell to a 4-3 defeat to France after Andre-Pierre Gignac's hat-trick and Teji Savanier's goal cancelled out goals from  Kobamelo Kodisang, Evidence Makgopa and Teboho Mokoena.

However, South Africa will now be aiming to get their first win in the group stages when they take on Mexico in their final Group A encounter on Wednesday.

"We have to go to the last game and play for our pride and try our best to get to the next round," Notoane told reporters after the game.

 "We will go and display the kind of football that South Africa is capable of. It is a chance for the players to market themselves and we should take the last game as our prize and an opportunity to go home with our heads held high.

 "It was a difficult, exciting, emotional [France] game because we went for it and they also came for it and, in the end, it was a game of margin of errors. We made more mistakes in our defensive areas than France.

 "I am proud of the boys for their effort, commitment and quality of play. Sad as it is, but that is what football is, what more can we say?

"The approach was primarily to manage our energy levels and hopefully to take a draw, which unfortunately did not happen. In the next two games, we hoped to give a kind of performance like today," he added. 

 "The challenge before us ahead of the Japan game was that we had three days to prepare and we had almost seven days without training, so we decided to go with an approach against Japan that would allow us to have the kind of performance in terms of energy today.

 "The changes for the France game were very effective even though we did not have the depth from the bench. We took a chance on two players and they surprised us even after going without training, apart from the physical work they have been doing in their rooms during the isolation period.

"I think we have a very slim chance of going through, mathematically, because on the head-to-head records we are out and that is why it is going to be very difficult for us to be honest. It was very important to get a result today, even though it was a draw. Unfortunately, that was not going to be."

 He added: "We analysed the strength of France and, generally, South African players are quick going forward, are athletic and good in one-on-one situations. We opted to play to our strength and use our speed to get into the high areas.

 "We wanted our wide players to play behind them and we got a lucky goal, if you may call it. We played to our strength and we showed the quality that we have in our attacks, but, of course, there are other aspects you can look at in our defensive behaviour. 

 "One has to play even without the ball, be more organised, be willing to fight and run harder by putting your body on the line and we failed in that regard. That is why we conceded two goals in the last eight minutes."