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Siyabonga Nomvethe believes Thabo Matlaba should join SA under-23s at Rio Olympics

Posted: 27 April 2016 Time: 08:18

Former Bafana Bafana striker Siyabonga Nomvethe says Owen Da Gama should select Orlando Pirates left-back Thabo Matlaba as one of the over-age players for the Olympic Games in Brazil later this year.

Despite the Olympic football tournament being an under-23 event, the rules state that each team has the option of selecting a maximum of three overaged players.

Da Gama will be carefully considering who to select as the experience-bearers in his squad, while Nomvethe suggests a hard-working player such as Matlaba could prove a valued asset in that environment.

'Bhele', who was part of Shakes Mashaba’s side that famously beat Brazil in the Sydney Olympics in 2000, also warns that selecting a "joker" would be detrimental to the success of the team.

"it’s difficult for me to choose and I will need time to sit down and see who deserves to be picked, because you don’t want to select someone who's going to crack jokes with young boys,’’ Nomvethe tells

"You need to get someone who’s going to be a hardworker. I feel guys like [Thabo] Matlaba are good, and he’s first one I would choose to go with them.

"Especially defensively, you need someone who’s a hardworker and he's the only one I see fit at the moment. I haven’t  seen many other guys, but we do have others.’’ 

The 38-year-old, who also saw his club career take him to Italy and Sweden after featuring at the FIFA World Cup in 2002, advises that the selected players should treat the tournament as a shop window as scouts will be out to sign top talents.

"The boys have to show commitment, because Olympic Games is an opportunity that doesn’t come very often. There will scouts there, who will come from different countries," added the current AmaZulu attacker. 

"It is the only way, once you're there, not to say you have achieved, but it is the only way to showcase your talent ans how that you have can fit the profile of what they want.

"And when that's the situation, the coach should be able to have the best team that can do the job."

Da Gama's side will face the host nation Brazil in their tournament opener, and fce a tough encounter against a side that finished runners-up in the 2012 showpiece.

"in the first game against Brazil, they will have to be at their best because Brazil are one of the most respected and feared national teams in history of football.

"We were able to beat them for the first time [in 2000], and I believe the current crop can do it again.

"When they go there they have to say ‘we are playing Brazil but we are also  South Africa’ and they need to adopt the mentality of ‘we don’t see anyone who can stop us in our way’, because those teams are also scared,’’ he concluded. 

South Africa, who will also face Iraq and Denmark in their other two Group A fixtures, have scheduled a friendly match against Japan at the Matsumotodaira Football Stadium in Nagano, Japan, on June 29.

Article by: Robin-Duke Madlala
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