SOUTH Africa Under-23 coach David Notoane has received a major boost ahead of their opening Africa Cup of Nations match against Zambia on Saturday night (9pm).

The match will be played at the 30 000 capacity, Al Salam Stadium in Cairo.

Earlier this week, Notoane left Mzansi with a depleted squad which had about 13 players for the tournament, which also serves as the qualifiers for the men’s Olympic football tournament.

This was because PSL clubs could not release their players as the tournament is being played outside the Fifa calendar.

However, yesterday morning three more players, captain Tercious Malepe, Keletso Makgalwa and Mondli Mpoto also joined the team in Egypt. Makgwalwa was not initially part of the squad, but he was called to replace Phakamani Mahlambi who suffered an injury when his club Mamelodi Sundowns play Chippa United in the Telkom Knockout Cup on Sunday.

“We welcome today Keletso, Mondli and the captain to improve the quality of the team in preparation for Zambia game. We appreciate the support from their clubs. This gives us positivity, inspiration and confidence going to the game.

South Africa played a practise match against Zamalek SC, which is coached by former Orlando Pirates mentor Milutin Sredojevic on Wednesday, and Notoane was pleased with his lads’ displays.

He said: “Some of the boys who are not playing regularly at the club level that Happy Mashiane and Thabiso Monyane were able to dust off the rustiness and we were able to see where the challenges could be when we face Zambia.

Notoane now has a tally of 15 players in the team. Other players will join the team on Monday.

Kobamelo Kodisang is the only overseas player who is part of the team and Notoane will be hoping that the likes of Lyle Foster and Luther Singh, who played a huge role on qualifiers, will join them.

Notoane will only have a complete squad before their second group game on Tuesday, where they will face Ivory Coast.

But there’s a doubt that those players might feature as they may not be in good physical condition after the travelling.