MX23RW : Wednesday, September 29 02:58:11| >> :600:4659548:4659548:
Jul 22, 2021 at 12pm UK at Ajinomoto Stadium
Japan U23sJapan Under-23s
South Africa U23sSouth Africa Under-23s
Kubo (71')
Endo (37'), Doan (57')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Preview: Japan Under-23s vs. South Africa Under-23s - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Olympic Games Men's Football clash between Japan Under-23s and South Africa Under-23s, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Japan Under-23s will kick off their Olympic Games campaign on Thursday, as they take on South Africa Under-23s in Group A action.

The young Japanese side will come into the Olympics on home turf with high expectations and will hope to start with a convincing victory over their African counterparts.

Match preview

As the host nation of the Summer Olympics, Japan did not have to go through qualifying to reach this stage, but they still come in as one of the most heavily fancied nations.

They head into the tournament in a strong run of form, having won two and drawn one of their last three games.

That started with a convincing 4-0 win over a senior Jamaican side in a hybrid friendly, with the young team showing their class in a dominant victory.

Hajime Moriyasu's side then built confidence earlier in July with a 3-1 win over a Honduras Under-23s side that they could meet in the knockout stage of the Olympic Games tournament.

Most recently, the Japanese Olympic squad took on pre-tournament favourites Spain in a friendly in preparation for the Olympic Games, and they came away with a creditable 1-1 draw, as Carlos Soler equalised late for their opponents after Ritsu Doan had put Japan Under-23s ahead on the stroke of half time.

They will now look to start the Olympics campaign in a positive manner on home turf, as they take on South Africa's young side.

South Africa qualified for the upcoming Olympic Games Men's Football tournament through the Africa Under-23s Cup of Nations in 2019.

The Amaglug-glug recorded a win over Ivory Coast in the group stage alongside draws with Zambia and Nigeria to finish second and book their spot in the final four as a result.

They would ultimately fall short in the semi-final, as an Abdel Rahman Magdy brace and a Ramadan Sobhi goal fired Egypt Under-23s to a 3-0 victory on their way to lifting the trophy.

South Africa would go on to win the third-place playoff in a penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw with Ghana, as a converted Lyle Foster spot kick and a missed opportunity from Emmanuel Cudjoe made the difference in sudden death.

Regardless of their defeat in the semi-finals, the advancement out of the group stage earned South Africa one of the continent's four available spots for the upcoming Olympic Games tournament, and they will hope to defy the odds and pick up a positive result against one of the strongest sides in the first game.

Their only match of the calendar year so far saw David Notoane's side again fall to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Egypt Under-23s, this time in friendly action, and they will hope to put that behind them as they head into this summer's tournament.

Japan Under-23s form (all competitions):
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • D

South Africa Under-23s form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • L

Team News

Japan Under-23s' vast array of talent includes Manchester City defender Ko Itakura, who recently spent a two-year loan deal in the Eredivisie with Groningen, and talented Bologna centre-back Takehiro Tomiyasu, who has already featured 23 times for the Japanese senior team.

Their defensive ranks have been further boosted by the selection of experienced centre-back Maya Yoshida as one of the three permitted over-age players, with the former Southampton man having made 107 appearances for the senior national team.

Further forward, the likes of Ritsu Doan and Koji Miyoshi offer options in the midfield, while 20-year-old Real Madrid prospect Takefusa Kubo is expected to shine.

Alongside Yoshida, VFB Stuttgart midfielder Wataru Endo and 31-year-old right-back Hiroki Sakai have been called up as the other two over-age players to bring additional experience to the side.

South Africa opted to name only one over-age player in their 22-man squad, with SuperSport United goalkeeper Ronwen Williams coming in for the tournament.

They will be without Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi, after the pair recently tested positive for COVID-19 alongside a member of staff in the South Africa camp.

Exciting 21-year-old forward Evidence Makgopa could play a key role in the front line, having netted a brace in his senior international debut in a 3-2 win over Uganda.

Winger Luther Singh also boasts plenty of experience in senior football, having had a productive loan spell at Portuguese top-flight outfit Pacos de Ferreira from Braga last season, registering five goals and five assists in 29 league appearances.

Japan Under-23s possible starting lineup:
Osako; Sakai, Yoshida, Tomiyasu, Tanaka; Doan, Kubo, Mitoma; Ueda, Maeda, Hayashi

South Africa Under-23s possible starting lineup:
Williams; Malepe, Mohamme, Mukumela, Fleurs; Mokoena, Mahlatsi, Dlala; Singh, Makgopa, Foster

SM words green background

We say: Japan Under-23s 2-0 South Africa Under-23s

The Japanese Olympic squad contains an abundance of quality, and with home advantage, they look set to go far in the tournament.

We see them getting off to a strong start on Thursday with a win to please the home fans, as they could certainly outclass South Africa if they manage to click going into the opening game.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data

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