South Africa coach David Notoane remains confident that Amaglug-glug can squeeze into the quarterfinals of the Olympic Games, despite losing their opening two Group A matches.
Following a 1-0 defeat by hosts Japan on Thursday, South Africa pushed France close on Sunday -- leading Les Bleus three times before conceding twice in the final stages of the match to fall to a 4-3 defeat.
While the loss leaves them bottom of the pile on zero points, Amaglug-glug could still advance with a victory over Mexico on Wednesday if they can overturn their goal-difference disadvantage, and Japan defeat France in Yokohama.
"Of course [we're hopeful]," Notoane told journalists in his postmatch news conference. "We have only once chance, which is to win, and then we go with a hope and a prayer.
"I told the players that if you lose, it's important to keep the margin of loss very narrow because you don't know what the permutations will work out like in the end.
"We lost 4-3 so we're minus two in terms of goal difference but the disadvantage would be if it were head-to-head, and then [even if] we win [against Mexico] and France lose, we'd still be out."
After defeating France 4-1 in their opener, Mexico lost 2-1 to Japan in their second group match on Sunday, but still have a four-goal difference cushion above Amaglug-glug.
"It's going to be a very, very difficult situation for us to be honest, whichever way you look at it," Notoane added. "We're here to try to get to the next round and also display the kind of football that South African players are capable of, to market and expose themselves to the world football space.
"We have the opportunity to go home with our heads held high against Mexico."
After a cagey contest in which they offered little going forward against Japan and lost only due to Takefusa Kubo's late effort, South Africa brought some of their fabled mzansi flair against the French.
"We analysed what the strengths are of South African players," Notoane said. "We get forward, we're quick, we're athletic, and we're good in one-on-ones.
"We opted to play to our strengths, by having the ball, by creating those situations, and of course, by using our speed to get in behind.
"If you don't create these moments, you don't make the opportunities, but while we played to our strengths and we showed the quality we have in attack, there are other aspects you have to look at in our defensive behaviour."
South Africa's Olympic participation was undermined by several positive coronavirus cases within the camp on the eve of the tournament, but after a lethargic showing against Japan, Notoane is confident that the energy and dynamism shown against France will be replicated in the showdown with Mexico.
"We decided to go for an approach against Japan that would allow us to have this kind of performance in terms of energy so we didn't risk tiring ourselves out," Notoane added.
"It was primarily to manage our energy levels and take a draw which wasn't to be and then we could give the kind of performance that you saw [against France] and against Mexico, because we are a very attack-minded team generally."