- Published on 27 July 2016
MZANSI national Under-23 coach Owen Da Gama says his side will show no fear against a star-studded Brazil in their Olympic Games opening match on 4 August.
The football portion of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, runs from 3-21 August.
Both the SA men and women’s national teams have been drawn against Brazil. Young Bafana’s other opponents in Group A are Denmark and Iraq.
Sweden and China join Banyana and Brazil in Group E.
Banyana face Sweden at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Stadium on 3 August, while Young Bafana take on Brazil at the Mane Garrinch Stadium in Brasilia the following day.
Da Gama has called up Kaizer Chiefs pair Itumeleng Khune and Eric Mathoho as his overage contingent and hopes their experience will count against the Brazilians.
Da Gama’s charges arrived in Rio on Sunday and are already gearing up for the first match against a Brazil team that boast the talent of Barcelona superstar and local hero Neymar, who also captains the national team.
But Da Gama has not shown any fear at the prospect of taking on Neymar and Brazil’s other stars.
The Brazil Under-23 team were also beaten 2-0 in the Olympic gold medal match by Mexico at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Da Gama said: “Brazil are a good team, with Neymar they will be dangerous, but as long as you believe, you can achieve something – and we strongly believe something good will happen.
“The pressure is on them, as they failed at major international events. We will defend as a collective. We can’t single out Neymar.”
Da Gama added that there was a lot of Brazilian influence in SA football.
His charges had defeated the hosts of the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Senegal in December 2015 to qualify for Rio.
The coach added: “Anything is possible in football. We beat Senegal at home, we can also beat Brazil in front of their supporters. It’s possible.
“We work hard and we are more of a closed book to Brazil.”