Having watched his Under-23 National team dismantle Zimbabwe in a show of pure force and class, Owen Da Gama has praised his charges saying if this team keep their feet on the ground, it has the making of a Dream Team. South Africa qualified for the Olympics qualifier 8-Nation tournament in Senegal in which 3 teams from Africa that will go to the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Da Gama’s side beat the visitors 3-0 on Saturday, having drawn 1-1 in the first leg in Harare a fortnight ago. He says: ‘If this side remains united, focused and hungry the way they have shown in the two-legged matches against this strong Zimbabwe side that has already qualified for the All Africa Games, I have little doubt we are slowly creating a team that will leave a legacy for this country. This side has a making of a Dream Team.’ The wily coach said the boys had shown exceptional talent, displayed cool heads and believes things can only get better with constant orientation from the technical staff.
The coach says: ‘I have always said I am looking beyond Senegal. With this type of show, I have little doubt South Africa will be one of the three countries headed for Rio Olympics next year. I am sensing something extraordinary from this team. We just need to continue having proper preparations, collective approach going forward and of course proper planning. I must add that I have had great support from all South Africans including the Premier Soccer League clubs, SAFA hierarchy led by President Danny Jordaan, my support staff of Shaun Bartlett and Deshi Bhaktawer and of course the players themselves deserve the utmost praise.’
Da Gama added the 3-0 victory over Zimbabwe was one of his greatest coaching highlights. Da Gama said with the Under-17, Under-20, Under-23, Banyana Banyana and Bafana Bafana having all started to qualify for major tournaments, things were looking better and better for the country: ‘The new SAFA leadership has invested heavily in making sure Vision 2022 is realised and as we can all see, if the country continue to support this initiative, we are headed for the top as a country. All our national teams have started to make a statement on the continent and we can only get better.’
Two-goal hero Keagan Dolly said his recent showing should galvanise him to a great 2015/2016 season: ‘I thought going into Saturday’s encounter against this Zimbabwe side, we showed greater appetite and hunger. On a personal note, I am hopeful that my performance in the two legs will catapult my career to the next level. I will continue working hard as a true professional and the rest will take care of themselves.’ Meanwhile, SAFA President Dr Jordaan has congratulated Owen Da Gama and the boys but added Saturday’s handsome victory was just the beginning of the long journey to Rio 2016: ‘The boys and the entire team showed professionalism and I must say the highlight of this win was the professionalism showed by the entire team. To Owen Da Gama and the boys, well done but now that you have wet the appetite of the nation with this great performance, we expect more from this team. For now go and relax, savour the win but start making preparations for the 8-Nations now.’