Baby Bafana kick off CAF with a credible draw

2011-11-28 08:07

The South African national Under-23 team, Baby Bafana, kicked off their CAF Under-23 Championship with a morale-boosting and credible 1-1 draw against favourites Ivory Coast last night, despite playing almost half of the game with 10 men.

In fact, Shakes Mashaba’s side should have won the game had they used the chances that came by, particularly at death with Bongolethu Jayiya missing gilt-edge chances.

However, it was a hard-fought draw against an equally determined side.Mashaba’s side went into the game as underdogs but that tag did not bother them as they took the game to the visitors.

Black Aces striker Phumelele Bhengu put the team ahead with a well-taken header in the 22nd minute from a Rodney Ramagalela’s cross.

But then the team lost Thamsanqa Sangweni to a needless and useless red card in the 52nd minute after receiving his second yellow.

Sangweni was first booked for a rough tackle in the first half and although the second one was rather too harsh as he was adjudged to be wasting time, he had to go for an early shower.

The sending off changed the complexion of the game as the West Africans took advantage of their extra man on the field and launched attack after attack.

Mashaba sacrificed Ramagalela for Kulegani Madondo to beef up the middle field but playing a team of Ivory Coast’s calibre with 10 men was always going to a mountain to climb.

Moroccan referee Bouchaib El Ahrach awarded a soft and dubious penalty to Ivory Coast in the 66th minute but goalkeeper Brilliant Khuzwayo (brilliantly) saved Michael Jean Seri’s spot kick.

But Khuzwayo could do nothing to stop Henri Griffiths’ ball from rolling into the net after a goalmouth scramble with only eight minutes to go.

Then Jayiya failed to win the game for the South Africans with virtually the last kick of the game after he was set through by the impressive Sameehg Doutie.

After their convincing display, Baby Bafana should fancy their chances against Gabon on Wednesday.

Gabon lost 1-0 to Egypt in an earlier game to take the North Africans to the summit of the group.

In other games, two other West Africans, Nigeria and Senegal, lost to Morocco and Algeria, respectively, on Saturday.

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