SA U-23 player ratings vs Brazil

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Warranted his selection as an overage player to the Under-23 Olympic team with a superb showing between the sticks. His experience proved key as his positioning, anticipation and communication aided in keeping a clean sheet against the hosts. Notable saves include two Neymar strikes from just outside the box, as well as a one-on-one block with his trailing leg to thwart Gabigol in the latter stages of the match. He did well to hold crosses to alleviate the pressure on the defence when needed – something he has been criticised for not doing enough of in the past.

Versatility sometimes leaves room for exposure, but Mobara showed world-class ability at right-back as he kept Brazilian superstar Neymar in check for most of the match. The new Orlando Pirates signing pulled all the stops to ensure limited threat from his end of the pitch, and forced multiple attacks in-field as he showed great strength and confidence in clearing his lines. A little altercation with the Barcelona forward late on also assured his fearlessness as he stood his ground against an attempted elbow inside the box.

Like his Kaizer Chiefs teammate Khune, Mathoho showed why he deserves to be in Rio. ’Tower’ put his height and experience to excellent use as he cut out every attempted aerial ball into the centre of defence, while his established partnership with Rivaldo Coetzee made it difficult for Brazil to break through the middle. Though silent, Mathoho put in a defensive display that speaks volumes of his ability, and is a sure bet to start the next game against Denmark.

Rivaldo Coetzee - 8 

‘Riva’ may have slightly dipped in form in recent months, but the Ajax Cape Town defender showed his class once again alongside Mathoho as he put in a good shift to block out new Manchester City signing Gabriel Jesus. The 19-year-old showed maturity and confidence as he timed his tackles well and provided good cover for his teammates. He also produced a vital outstretched clearance to prevent a clear scoring chance at the far post in the 53rd minute.

Playing out of his usual left-wing position, Mekoa showed good character to fend off any threat from Brazil while also pushed forward in support of Keagan Dolly. His pace proved tricky for Brazilian right-back Zeco, as he was able to make runs down the flank and add numbers in attack. 

The Highlands Park midfielder covered some hard yards during his time on the park before a cynical challenge, just before the hour-mark, earned him a second yellow card and an early shower as perhaps a lack of experience resulted in a rush of blood to the head. Mvala earned his first caution just minutes earlier after clipping Neymar at the ankles in the middle of the park. His earlier displays, though, warranted his selection into the starting line-up as he shut out the midfield.

Though he was hardly noticed on the ball, Modiba did well alongside Mvala to minimise Brazil’s threat through the centre of the park. His positioning and closing down was particularly key as Felipe Anderson, Thiago Maia and Renato Augusto were allowed limited space to roam in midfield.

Masuku was a shadow of himself as he looked too casual on the ball and gave away possession unnecessarily in good attacking positions. The former Orlando Pirates man played a pivotal role in qualification for the Olympics, but seemed to have been missing his spark on the night.

Keagan Dolly – 8 

Dolly started the match like a house on fire as every attack passed through the captain down the left-flank. He caused headaches for Marquinhos and co. with a few excellent runs and dribbles, before cutting inside to pick out his teammates. In the first few minutes, Dolly provided a well-placed through-pass for Lebo Mothiba, but the latter was beaten to the ball by Brazil goalkeeper Weverton. He also had saw his left-footed shot from range flash inches wide of goal in the first half. 

Motupa looked a bit off the pace in the opening stages but quickly found his rhythm in the centre of the park as he played a supportive role to Mothiba. Showed maturity to switch his focus to defence after the sending-off of Mvala midway through the second half, and linked well with his teammates in transition.

The Lille striker had a few great opportunities in the opening exchanges but was unable to make the most of them. He did well to move into space and meet Dolly’s corner in the first half, but failed to direct his header on target. Also met Dolly's cross in the second half but could only direct a difficult header at the goalkeeper. His movement off the ball and his ability to combine with Dolly caused problems for the Brazil defence.

SUBS

Morris came on in the 58th minute to replace Menzi Masuku, but was unable to make a great impact on the match as South Africa were reduced to 10 men just a minute later. His ability to retain possession was key in slowing down the pace of the game later on as Brazil tried to increase the tempo in search of a winner. 

Came on to replace Modiba in the 70th minute as the midfield needed fresh legs to cope with Brazil’s attacking threat. Did well to help in defence as South Africa held on for a point and managed a clean sheet.