Olympic Dreams

Three former Corinthians and Joburg City Academy players, Bradley Cross, Samkelo Zwane and Christos Retsos, have been included in the South Africa Under 23 Olympic squad.

Under 23 national coach David Notoane announced the squad ahead of the team’s two-legged play off against Congo later this month.

If the team wins the tie on aggregate they will advance to the Olympic Play Off Tournament in Morocco later this year.  The eight-team tournament will decide which three teams qualify for the Olympic Games in Paris next year. (The fourth placed team can also qualify via an inter-continental play off in November).

Corinthians Club Chairman Lucas Ioannides praised the three star players: “We are immensely proud of their achievement. While their talent has been fostered by other clubs on their respective journeys, their formative years were at Corinthians and the Academy. Something we can all be very proud of.”

“I remember a six-year-old Christos running around our fields. To now see him playing in Greece and representing South Africa is an inspiration for all our juniors at the Club and the Academy.”

Retsos played for both Corinthians FC and the Joburg City Academy (formerly Black Aces) before moving to Europe. He is currently with Aris Petroupoulis in Greece and along with Kgaugelo Chauke (Exeter City) are the only two foreign-based players in the Olympic squad. 

Joburg City’s Technical Director Tony Dias said: “It’s an incredible time for them and potentially could end with them representing their country at the Olympics. There is a lot of hurdles still in their way but something they can achieve.”

He continues: “I remember scouting Bradley during an Edenvale districts tournament and bringing him to the Academy. He and Christos formed the basis of an incredible talented group of players, many who have gone on to play professionally.”  

Cross would spend four years with the Academy, where at the tender age of 17 was captain of the senior squad, which at the time was competing in the Gauteng ABC Motsepe League.

He moved abroad signing with Schalke before joining Newcastle United’s juniors teams in the English Premiership.  He has represented South Africa at other junior levels and is currently playing in the local Premier Soccer League with Maritzburg United.

Dias said of Samkelo, now the rising star at Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs:  “Sameko was with us for a few years joining us in 2016,  playing for our Under 14 Corinthians team and later in the Academy. He is an incredible talent and no surprise that he is doing so well at Chiefs.”

“We wish them all the best,” said Ioannides, “We believe they will go on to make us even prouder playing for the senior national team one day. We looking forward to welcoming them back to the Club so our youngsters can see that their dreams of playing football at the highest level can become a reality.” The Olympic team will played Congo in the first league of their play off match on 23 March 2023 at Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto. The return leg is in Brazzaville, Congo four days later.

Samkelo Zwane of Kaizer Chiefs during the DStv Premiership 2022/23 match between AmaZulu and Kaizer Chiefs at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban on the 13 January 2023 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Bradley Cross of Maritzburg United during the DStv Premiership 2022/23 match between Maritzburg United and AmaZulu at the Harry Gwala Stadium, Petermaritzburg on the 03 February 2023 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

One thought on “Olympic Dreams

Comments are closed.