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Olympics: South Africa squander chance to beat France

South Africa's Luther Singh missed a penalty against France at the Olympics

The South African national under-23 team was left heart-broken after France scored in the dying minutes of their group A match at the Tokyo Olympics played at Saitama Stadium on Sunday, 25 July.

Despite taking the lead three times in the game, the South Africans ended up losing 4-3, which was their second loss in the competition after going down 1-0 to hosts Japan on Thursday, 22 July.

At halftime, it was goalless after South African winger Luther Singh missed a penalty.

All the seven goals in the match were scored in the second half and it was the South Africans who opened the scoring through the deadly Portuguese based attacker, Kodisang Kobamelo.

The 21-year-old took advantage of an error in the France defence to open the scoring eight minutes into the second half. That lead lasted only four minutes as 35-year-old French striker and captain Andre-Pierre Gignac levelled matters. In the 73rd minute, South African netted their second goal through tall striker Evidence Makgopa, who popped up at the near post to convert from close range. Just like the first goal, South Africa’s lead did not last long. Gignac made it 2-2 with a header from close range, as the French side took advantage of South Africa’s questionable defending.

South Africa were determined to win the game as midfielder Teboho Mokoena scored a brilliant goal to make it 3-2 with eight minutes left on in regulation time, as his curling effort gave the French goalkeeper Paul Bernardoni no chance.

Just as South Africa thought that they might have snatched a victory, France equalised from the penalty spot. Gignac completed his hat-trick with a brilliant finish from the penalty spot and then France stole snatched all three points when Teji Savanier, another one of the over-aged players in the French team, scored the winner in the third minute of stoppage time.

South Africa are bottom of group A and have one more match against Mexico on Wednesday, 28 July.

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