Sunday Jul 25, 2021. 13:00
South Africa led on three occasions but ultimately fell to a 4-3 defeat to France in a thrilling Group A match at Saitama Stadium on Sunday.
David Notoane’s team looked a different unit to the one that lost 1-0 to hosts Japan in their Olympic Games opener earlier this week and were a lot more offensively orientated.
South Africa dominated a first half in which Evidence Makgopa hit the crossbar and Luther Singh missed a penalty, but got their just reward eight minutes in the second half as Kabomelo Kodisang pounced on a defensive mix-up which left him with an open net to aim at.
France leveled matters through Andre-Pierre Gignac in the 57th minute, but South Africa were able to regain their lead in the 73rd minute when Makgopa powered home a pin-point cross from Kodisang from an acute angle.
Gignac proved his quality with a second five minutes later following some poor defending from the South Africans once again, but Amaglug-glug looked sure to be on their way to all three points when Teboho Mokoena thumped home a trademark finish from the edge of the area with eight minutes of regulation time remaining.
Notoane made two defensive substitutions straight after the goal in an attempt to hold onto the narrow lead, but the decision backfired as Ronwen Williams conceded a penalty which Gignac duly converted to complete his hat-trick.
It went from bad to worse in stoppage-time as Teji Savanier drove home a low finish to give France the lead.
South Africa had a late chance to at least conjure a point and keep their Olympic hopes alive in the process, but Luke Fleurs missed with the goal at his mercy.