Bafana’s dream lives on

2013-03-24 10:01

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This should have been a massacre. Three matches down, three to go.

Halfway through the 2014 Fifa (Brazil) World Cup qualifying rounds, South Africa is still up there after riding their luck against Central African Republic (CAR) last night.

The three points meant Bafana leapfrogged both CAR and Ethiopia at the summit of the log table, but the East Africans have a chance of reclaiming their top spot when they meet Botswana in Addis Ababa this afternoon.

This was a much-needed victory for Bafana to get their qualifying campaign back on track after playing two draws in their opening fixtures last year.

But then again, there is still a lot to be done as Bafana need at least two more victories to be guaranteed a spot among the top 10 teams that will contest the five available berths for the nations that will represent Africa in Brazil.

Bafana will next play the same CAR and Ethiopia, both away in June.

They will wrap up their campaign against neighbouring Botswana in September at home.

After yesterday’s match, coach Gordon Igesund knows it will not be smooth-sailing away as CAR showed they can play.

There are still some bumpy roads ahead and it will take guts and determination for Bafana to make it.

This should have been an easy ride for Bafana but they made what looked like an easy match hard for themselves.

The match could have been all over in the opening 10 minutes, but striker Tokelo Rantie missed two golden opportunities inside the small box.

The encouraging thing, however, was that Bafana were creating a lot of chances and this gave them the momentum going forward.

But as the match grew older, the visitors, who seemed to be playing for a draw, grew in confidence as they started to attack the hosts.

Bafana No?1 Itumeleng Khune was tested in the 21st minute but the captain did well to stop Foxi Kethevoama’s goal-bound shot.

With the home support rallying behind Bafana, something had to give and left-back Thabo Matlaba, who earlier looked out of sorts, let rip of his trademark long shot to give the home side the lead in the 33rd minute.

Then Bafana suffered a big blow when crowd favourite Dean Furman was forced off the pitch after he was hit in the face.

Khune led from the back as he once again came to Bafana’s rescue early in the second half as the visitors were searching for the equaliser.

The Bafana No?1 pulled off a brilliant save in the 50th minute to deny Josue Balamandi.

After weathering the storm, in which CAR’s goal from a hand ball was disallowed, Bafana came back strongly and were duly rewarded when Kaizer Chiefs marksman Bernard Parker scored the second goal.

Credit should also go to Igesund for his tactical changes in the second half when he took off the ineffective Thuso Phala for mobile Siphiwe Tshabalala and misfiring Rantie for the silky midfielder Oupa Manyisa.

These changes tilted the scale in Bafana’s favour until the end of the match.

Again, credit should be paid to the soccer-loving Capetonians who braved the chilly weather to support their Bafana Bafana.

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