Yet another draw for Mashaba’s team

2011-12-01 07:36

Marrakech – The South African national Under-23 team settled for yet another draw against Gabon in the CAF Under-23 Championship in Morocco last night.

This was Shakes Mashaba’s second successive 1-1 draw and it leaves their hope of qualifying for next year’s London Olympic Games in tatters.

Mashaba’s side now has a mountain to climb as they have to beat Egypt on Saturday.

But this is the game they should have won convincingly but bad decision making at critical areas on the field cost them the three points.

Just like they did against Ivory Coast on Sunday, Baby Bafana failed to capitalised on their chances.

After taking the lead through a Mandla Masango header in the 40th minute the team allowed the West Africans to come at them in the second half and made things difficult for themselves going into the final group game.

Gabon scored the equaliser in the 80th minute through substitute Diderot Lengoualama from a corner kick.

Both sides went into the game searching for maximum points as anything other than three points would have meant exiting the tournament.

The West Africans started the aggressive side, dictating terms, particularly in the middle of the park but as the game grew older the South Africans gained their composure.

Mashaba’s side started asking questions by knocking on Gabon’s door and the reply was not convincing.

Although guilty of squandering chances, the slender lead they had a half-time gave them hope that they could add more goals in the second half.

Injury to reliable defender Eric Mathoho and Thamsanqa Sangweni’s suspension meant Mashaba had to make changes to the team that started against Ivory Coast on Sunday.

But it was not a big deal as striker Phumelele Bhengu slotted at right back while Gladwin Shitolo moved to the heart of defence.

Jabulani Shongwe was trusted with the job of controlling the middle of the park and he did that with aplomb spraying passes beautifully.

Baby Bafana opened the scoring through Masango who connected Rodney Ramagalela’s cross from the right in the 40th minute.

It could have been 2-0 at the break but Sameegh Doutie saw his effort narrowly missing the target. But all that changed in the second half when the South Africans allowed Gabon to come at them and steal a point at death.

The South Africans’ undoing was to defend deeply in the second half inviting their opponents to dictate terms.
But a win on Saturday might be enough to see them through.

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