Bafana Bafana

Bafana make heavy weather of beating Ethiopia, set up tantalising Group G finish

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Bafana Bafana celebrates a goal. (Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)
Bafana Bafana celebrates a goal. (Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

To say Bafana Bafana made heavy weather of their 1-0 victory against Ethiopia in their Group G 2022 World Cup qualifier is to put it rather lightly.

AS IT HAPPENED | Bafana Bafana 1-0 Ethiopia

That they got the three points, especially a game against an Ethiopia side that was allowed far more latitude than they should, was down to fortune more than anything else.

With Ghana beating Zimbabwe 1-0 through a Thomas Partey goal, South Africa needed to win this game.

Getaneh Kebede's 11th minute own goal was enough to separate the teams and effectively eliminate the visitors from the qualification process.

South Africa now top Group G with 10 points from their four games and they're the only unbeaten team in the group.

They have matches against Zimbabwe at home and Ghana away next month, but neither team will have lost sleep in how Bafana played.

The manner in which South Africa got past Ethiopia was far from convincing.

Coach Hugo Broos did say in the pre-match press conference that perfect performances are few and far between.

Tuesday night's one was a proper work-in-progress showing from a side that admittedly is still finding its feet under the Belgian.

A crack side like Ghana would have punished the numerous defensive switch-offs Bafana experienced for the better part of the game.

However, teams that have a new coach tend to play far beyond their expected potential and exude a sense of belief that makes them get out of tight corners.

The Ethiopia game could have been a banana skin, but having negotiated the tougher away leg on Saturday with more ease than what was expected, there was a win in the bank and the memory of a good performance to fall back on.

The game took place in the backdrop of fans being allowed to attend matches for the first time since March 2020.

Except for a group of Ethiopian supporters who thought that by just rocking up at the stadium with vaccination cards and their documentation, they would be allowed in.

That wasn't the case and the same was applicable for a group of South African supporters who said they had travelled from Mpumalanga to watch the game on the basis that they were vaccinated.

Those teething matters were well dealt with by security and the police, while those who applied through the correct channels and had the proper documentation were allowed in.

The first half contained a fair bit of hustle and bustle, but when Kebede turned in Evidence Makgopa's header from a Yusuf Maart corner, Bafana had snared the crucial lead.

Makgopa should have made it 2-0 in the 30th minute after Bongokuhle Hlongwane had blazed down the right-hand side, but the striker blasted the ball over the bar.

Captain Ronwen Williams was kept busy for the better part of the game, but his best save came in the 40th minute when he parried a snap-shot from just outside his box.

In the 55th minute, Makgopa had a chance that was flagged for offside, but a defensive lapse from the visitors moments later allowed him a second bite at the cherry.

He didn't fluff his lines, but the ball was cleared off the line by defender.

Sensing their qualification chances drifting away, Ethiopia pressed for the equaliser, but when it mattered Bafana's defence held.

The victory meant so much for Bafana, as soon as the final whistle sounded, the players rushed over to the far side of the stadium to sing with the fans.

That they weren't polished may not matter, but for this game and in front of fans, they got the result that mattered.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
After the opening weekend of URC action, what did you make of the South African struggles?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
It exposed the quality of South African rugby...
38% - 2105 votes
There were positives to take
7% - 367 votes
We shouldn't read too much into one weekend
17% - 924 votes
It will take the SA sides time to adjust to the new competition
39% - 2201 votes