Da Gama thanks SAFA after success


South Africa U23 coach Owen Da Gama says he’s excited with the fact that his side qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro after beating Senegal 3-1 on Saturday.
Speaking after the win, ODG also thanked the South African Football Association for the opportunity and support to lead the side to the 2015 CAF U23 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Dakar, Senegal.
The South Africans defeated the hosts in the third place play-off on penalties following a 0-0 draw. They now join champions Nigeria and Algeria in the Olympics.
“I am feeling very ecstatic but I am happier for the players. I am more pleased for the SAFA hierarchy – the President, the CEO, our head coach Shakes Mashaba, these are the people who started it all, these are the people who made it possible for me to be here,” said ODG.
“How can I forget the Chairman of the PSL Dr Irvin Khoza and the entire PSL management.”
Speaking about the brilliance of his goalkeeper Jody February who saved four penalties during the match including one within the 90 minutes of play, Da Gama was delighted.
“I think the turning point for us was after we lost to Senegal in the opening match. We had gone unbeaten for some time before the tournament and we had not met a West African opposition,” adds the coach.
“Yes, he was (February) exceptional. During our meeting prior to the game I asked all the players to switch on for the match, I know he was the first to do so.
“We kept faith in him especially after he conceded two against Algeria and the lesson there is that if you keep faith in something they tend to do better, and that’s what happened to Jody.”
The South Africans have also won the Fair Play Award in the showpiece and are expected to land at OR Tambo International Airport on Monday evening at 18:00.
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