South African football authorities need to box clever within the next couple of months in order to prioritize what is important for the country as continental competitions come thick and fast.
The national U-23 squad departs for Luanda on Wednesday to engage Angola in an Olympic 2020 Games qualifier with the second leg match scheduled for March 26 at the Milpark Stadium in Braamfontein.
Should the South Africans be successful in the two-match series, they stand to face the winner of the tie featuring Mozambique against Zimbabwe in the next round and if successful, will qualify for the African Nations Cup tournament in Egypt.
The tournament in Egypt during November will be contested by eight nations and the top three qualifies for the Olympic Games scheduled for Tokyo next year.
However, with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) releasing fixtures for the African Nations Championship (CHAN), a tournament open only to players who play their professional football in their respective countries on the tournament, it would be wise for SAFA to consider using the U-23 squad in this tournament.
This will make sense due to the fact that the South African Premier League is congested and there is no way that local clubs will release their best players to feature in the CHAN tournament.
South Africa get their CHAN campaign off the ground with a two-legged fixture against Lesotho during April and if successful, will face the winner between Zambia/Botswana/Seychelles sometime during July.
It would be a perfect opportunity to throw in the U-23 to tackle this fixture in order to sharpen them for their crucial final Olympic qualifying encounter against either Mozambique or Zimbabwe, it is all up to the coaches and the authorities to consider the rewards of assisting the young Bafana Bafana squad to qualify for Tokyo.
South Africa became the first ever country to qualify both their men and women teams to the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil and it was Banyana Banyana’s successive participation in the Olympic Games after they had also qualified for the London games during 2012.