Afcon, here we come

2014-11-17 00:00

BAFANA Bafana’s 2-1 win over Sudan at Moses Mabhida on Saturday has ensured their participation at next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea.

It is the first time that South Africa have qualified for a major tournament since 2008.

The result also means that Bafana will finish top of Group A regardless of what happens in their final fixture — a daunting trip to the Akwa Ibom Stadium on Wednesday where they will face African champions Nigeria. The Super Eagles defeated Congo 2-0 in the group’s later kick-off on Saturday, but by that stage Bafana had secured their own fate and the party had already started.

A goal in each half from first Thulani Serero and then Tokelo Rantie had given Bafana a 2-0 lead, but a late strike from Salah Ibrahim hushed the 32 000 fans in attendance and made for a panicky finish from Bafana.

After an unconvincing opening half-an-hour, Bafana settled and began to look the better side. Newly appointed captain Dean Furman was, unsurprisingly, most noticeable in the early stages. His ability to break up play saw Bafana regain possession on numerous occasions and in the first half most of Bafana’s attacks began with a Furman pass. But it was Thulani Serero who would break the deadlock.

Looking hungry and menacing whenever he got the ball, Serero was finally giving the performance that Bafana fans have been expecting for so long. His side-footed finish on 34 minutes was as composed as it was deft, and Bafana were away.

From that point on the gulf in ability between the sides was clear. Furman sat deeper and allowed the link-up play between Andile Jali, Serero and Oupa Manyisa to take centre stage. By the time Rantie’s sublime run and world-class finish made it 2-0, Bafana were playing as well as they have all campaign.

Oozing confidence, the home side got a little too cocky on the ball — every lingering touch and flashy exchange greeted with a roar from the Moses faithful, who had earlier played their part in a moment’s silence for the late Senzo Meyiwa before kick-off.

But a single lapse of concentration allowed the largely unimposing Sudanese back in, which made for a cagey last 15 minutes. The goal conceded was Bafana’s first in the five matches they have played in qualifying, while Shakes Mashaba remains undefeated as Bafana coach.

Score:

SA (1) 2 (Serero 38’ Rantie 53’)

Sudan (0) 1 (Salah Ibrahim 77’)

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