Cape Town - Bafana Bafana's dream of playing in the Soccer World Cup in Russia next year were shattered when they lost to Senegal at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Friday evening.
English Premier League pair Diafra Sakho and Sadio Mane played key roles as Senegal defeated South Africa 2-0 to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
West Ham striker Sakho opened the scoring off a pass from Liverpool attacker Mane and both were involved in the move that led to a Thamsanqa Mkhize own-goal before half-time.
Victory gave Senegal an uncatchable five-point lead over Burkina Faso and Cape Verde in Group D with one round left.
The only previous World Cup appearance by Senegal was in 2002 when current coach Aliou Cisse captained a team that reached the quarter-finals in South Korea and Japan.
Bottom-of-the-table Bafana Bafana lie seven ponts behind Senegal ahead of a return match in Dakar next Tuesday, with Burkina Faso hosting Cape Verde at the same time.
South Africa defeated Senegal 2-1 in Polokwane last November, but FIFA ordered a replay because of "match manipulation" by Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey, who was banned for life.
"It was not an easy game for us, but we took the chances that came our way," said Mane, who returned to Premier League action last Saturday after a hamstring injury.
"Our coach stressed before the match the importance of qualifying for the World Cup and we gave everything throughout the match.
"We are going to represent all of Africa in Russia next year and will do our best to make everyone proud."
Senegal are the third African qualifiers for the World Cup in Russia after Nigeria and Egypt, who secured places during the penultimate qualifying round last month.
The other two slots will be filled on Saturday with north African countries Tunisia and Morocco needing draws to qualify.
Tunisia host out-of-contention Libya in Group A holding a three-point advantage over the Democratic Republic of Congo, who play Guinea in Kinshasa.
Morocco are one point in front of the Ivory Coast ahead of a showdown in Abidjan with the visitors hoping to end a 20-year absence from the World Cup.
Bafana goalkeeper and captain Itumeleng Khune played with a protective white mask after fracturing a facial bone in a club match last weekend.
Senegal took the lead after 12 minutes when Sakho raced on to a Mane pass and side-footed the ball to the right of onrushing Khune.
Stung by falling behind so early, Bafana
sought an equaliser and came close midway through the opening half in Polokwane.
Goalkeeper Khadim Ndiaye failed to grasp a fierce close-range Themba Zwane shot, but recovered to catch the rebound after the ball struck the onrushing Percy Tau.
South Africa came even closer soon after when Lebogang Manyama swept a low cross against the crossbar and Senegal hastily cleared the loose ball.
The Senegalese Teranga Lions doubled their lead after 38 minutes against the run of play with another goal involving Sakho and Mane.
Sakho broke clear and crossed to Mane, whose shot was blocked by Khune only for the clearance to hit Mkhize and trickled back into the net.
As half-time approached, Manyama went close again to scoring, this time from a free-kick that Ndiaye tipped over.
Bafana introduced midfielders Andile Jali and Siphiwe Tshabalala midway through the second-half, but neither made an impact.
Diafra Sakho - 12'
Thamsanqa Mkhize - 38' (OG)
Itumeleng Khune, Clayton Daniels, Morgan Gould, Thamsanqa Mkhize, Sifiso Hlanti, Dean Furman, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Lebogang Manyama, Themba Zwane, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Percy Tau
Substitutes: Wayne Sandilands, Ronwen Williams, Motjeka Madisha, Tebogo Langerman, Eric Mathoho, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Phakamani Mahlambi, Tiyani Mabunda, Keagan Dolly, Bradley Grobler
Khadim NDiaye, Adama Mbengue, Kalidou Koulibaly, Cheikhou Kouyaté, Youssouf Sabaly, Idrissa Gana Gueye, Cheikh Ndoye, Pape Alioune Ndiaye, Sadio Mané, Diafra Sakho, Keita Baldé