BAFANA ENROUTE TO BRAZIL
By: Nhlanhla Ndlovu
Bafana Bafana picked up the crucial three points with a three goals thriller in the 2014 World Cup qualifying game against Central African Republic (CAR) at the Stade Omnisports Ahmadou-Ahidjo in Yaonde, Cameroon on Saturday.
The two goals from Kaizer Chiefs duo, Simphiwe Tshabalala and Bernard Parker in the first half and a late goal by the Moroka Swallows target man Katlego Mashego, helped Coach Gordon Igesund’s men to close the gap in Group A in a match that was played in the neutral venue due to the war situation in CAR. Now, Bafana are two points behind the Ethiopian side following the side’s victory over Botswana.
Although Bafana won the game, but their coach is still concerned about the training saga that affected their training session during the week. Igesund’s men trained only once before the game.
“It was very tough. We only trained once in the week, really, and it was very tough on the players towards the end of the game,” Igesund said on Supersport channel.
“The CAR team is really a tough side. They showed it both in Cape Town, and again today (Saturday), but I am proud of my boys. They had so much belief and worked for each other,” Igesund added.
Both sides were in need of the three points but Igesund’s boys created a lot of opportunities especially in the first half.
The South African side showed hunger for a win from the first whistle and before the half hour mark results came alive. In the 25th minute, Tshabalala played a through ball splitting the CAR back four to find Parker near the D-line who beat the goalkeeper and played the ball to an empty net to give Bafana the goal they wanted.
In the 41st minute, Reneilwe Letsholonyane should have increased the score when he beat the offside trap after Tshabalala played a lob ball on his path but on a one on one situation with the keeper to beat, he just back heeled the ball into the CAR’s keeper way who comfortable made a save.
A minute later from that South African attack, Bafana got the ball fast and with Tshabalala leading the attack, he played a one-two pass with striker Tokelo Rantie and he ran through CAR’s defence before playing the ball over the opposition keeper to make the score 2-0 just before the half time whistle.
Bafana came back to the second half with a low pace on their game but they kept the ball on the field. In the additional time of the second half, the two substitutes Oupa Manyisa and Mashego combined. Manyisa created space in left side before he sent in a high cross into the box which found the former Pirates man waiting who headed into an empty net to make the score 3-0.
Captain Itumeleng Khune was delighted with the performance of his mate. Khune was serving his first game as the side’s official captain.
“Three goals and a clean sheet, we could not have asked for anything better. We showed mental strength out there. The approach to the game was positive and that is why we came out tops,” Khune said on Supersport channel.
Bafana will depart for Ethiopia on Friday to face the Ethiopian side on Sunday.