After taking part in the previous World Cup, the 24-year-old star is also in Tokyo for the ongoing tournament.
South Africa’s Tercious Malepe told how his former teammates had an excellent grip on Brazilian Neymar during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.
South Africa faced 70,000 fans in the city of Brasilia before the host – who eventually became champion – and Malepe revealed how impressed he was with how his teammates faced them.
The home team was led by the valued forward Neymar in a starting batsman who eventually ended in a 0-0 draw.
“What Neymar is doing on the field is incredible – just beautiful to watch,” said Malepe. Fifa.com. ‘But I was on the bench that day and I remembered how our defenders, guys like Abbubaker Mobara, played against him. Cool, calm, collected – it was amazing.
‘I could honestly watch the moments of that game over and over again: Neymar had everything he had to score, but our guys did him such a good job and kept him clean. It showed me what you can achieve, even against good players and teams if you believe in yourself.
“Character is so important; to show people ‘I may not be a big star, but I have what it takes to be here’.”
The South African international also spoke about his career and experience after joining FC Mynai of Ukraine, although he returned to the Premier Soccer League with AmaZulu after the Ukrainian team was delegated.
“I feel I am a better player to play on that stage and face teams like Shakhtar Donetsk, Dynamo Kyiv and all the top players they have,” he added.
“I remember going to Shakhtar at the weekend after beating Real Madrid and thinking again, ‘It’s all about character.’ And I did well – I dominated my battles. When I watched the Euro, was I when I saw Ukraine play and thought, ‘That man chased me when I played against him!’
“So yes, I enjoyed my time in Ukraine. I think the way I see the game definitely improved while I was there. It’s one thing of mine: I will not stop learning. Whatever happens, I’ll always be a student of the game. “
Malepe is in Japan with his teammates for the 2020 Olympics and he revealed how he helped the players understand the competition.
“When I told the young guys here how important this tournament is, and how special it is for us to be here, they understand that I know what I’m talking about,” he continued.
“I was in their position – I was the youngest player in our group in 2016 – and I told them, ‘The atmosphere of this event, the environment, the level of play, is something else.’
In the group of South Africa he is the only player with previous experience of Olympic football and he made history by becoming the first South African star to appear in rugby editions.