Orlando Pirates defender Bongani Sam on South Africa's Olympic dream

Bongani Sam, Orlando Pirates, July 2019
The 22-year-old player is under pressure to impress coach Notoane in order to win a place in the final squad for the continental tournament

Orlando Pirates defender Bongani Sam is eager to secure his place in the South Africa squad which will participate in the 2019 U23 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in Egypt.

The left-back has struggled for playing time and also battled with injury at Bucs since joining the Soweto giants from Bloemfontein Celtic prior to the start of the current campaign.

South Africa U23 head coach David Notoane is set to announce the final squad for the continental competition in two weeks time.

Sam is part of the team which will face Egypt in two friendly matches in Cairo this weekend.

“Before one can even think about the actual tournament, we first need to do well in Egypt this weekend,” Sam told Daily Sun.

“Going there (Egypt) is pressure on its own, if we fail to impress and don’t get positive results, we will miss out on the final selection."

The top three teams from the 2019 U23 Afcon finals will qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan and Sam is confident they will reach the global tournament. 

“The coach always reminds us that there are so many players hence we must not relax. There is a lot of expectation from us in the two games," he added.

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“People have been comparing us to the past group that qualified for the Olympics in 2016, and I feel like we are capable of doing more than that.

“Everyone in camp is looking forward to working towards our goal, which is to qualify for the Olympics.”

South Africa have been drawn in Group B alongside their Southern African rivals Zambia and West African giants Ivory Coast and Nigeria.