Tokelo Rantie celebrates after opening the scoring for Bafana with a header against Nigeria. Photo: Kabiru Abubakar, BackpagePix

UYO, Nigeria – Bafana Bafana finally beat Nigeria for the first time in a competitive match at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium on Saturday evening.

Following a stuttering start in the first half, they scored twice in an aggressive second to end a 25-year hoodoo.

Here is how each South African player fared in this Group E 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier…

Itumeleng Khune – 6/10

The Bafana goalkeeper didn’t have much to do despite Nigeria being dominant for most of the second half. Whenever there was a threat, Khune was on hand to deal with it, but really could have brought a picnic basket and watched the Super Eagles fire blanks. His rating is affected by the fact that he was a spectator mostly.

Mulomowandau Mathoho – 7/10

Mostly compact at the rearguard, although concerns that Bafana would have cracked had Nigeria kept piling the pressure. He was obviously picked for his height, and dealt with the crosses from Moses Daddy and Alex Iwobi well, shielding Khune from any danger. Mathoho stayed alert and played a key role in guaranteeing the clean sheet.

Thulani Hlatshwayo – 7/10

He, too, marshalled the defence like a true skipper. ‘Tyson’ was often quick on the ball and frustrated Nigeria’s lone striker Kelechi Iheanacho, until he was taken off late in the second half. He and Mathoho were often pressing and were hardly caught flat-footed. Looked unsettled in the early minutes of the match, but only because the two sides appeared to be sizing each other up.

Ramahlwe Mphahlele – 5/10

Was given a tough time by Iwobi in the first half, with balls being lobbed over him and he had to chase the skilful Arsenal attacker. Struggled to use the acres of spaces given to him on the right when he overlapped, cluttering into his challenger on few occasions. But he found his footing in the second half and was responsible for setting up Tokelo Rantie to score the opening goal of the match.

Tebogo Langerman – 4/10

Not his best game in a Bafana shirt, but being part of a back-four that kept a clean sheet covered up his average performance. Managed to go on a few surges forward, one of which could have led to a goal when his cross was fumbled by goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, the ball falling to Themba Zwane, whose shot came off the post.

Dean Furman – 8/10

Helped win the midfield battle and cut off Nigeria’s supply from that area of the pitch. He tracked back, pushed forward and was impressive when Bafana were in possession. Furman was disciplined and never got carried away, even when South Africa were leading.

Bongani Zungu – 8/10

In the end, it was he who partnered Furman in central midfield to deal with the Nigeria duo of captain Ogenyi Onazi and Wilfred Ndidi. There were one or two balls played through them, but fortunately they were not used to good effect upfront. Zungu’s height was also a plus in winning aerial balls, but he was mostly impressive with the ball at his feet and slowing down the pace of the game when necessary.

Keagan Dolly – 6/10

A bit of a quiet game, but he put in a proper shift in tracking back when Bafana didn’t have the ball, and building the transition when they did. The game plan to punish Nigeria from corner kicks, with Dolly sending the ball into the box, didn’t come to the fore. However, he was able to break away quickly and send Percy Tau through on goal for Bafana’s second.

Themba Zwane – 8/10

Would have been remembered and scolded for hitting the post twice in either half had Bafana lost. Those two misses aside, he showed yet again why he has improved as a player – from being an unused sub in three of the national team’s Africa Cup of Nations group matches in Equatorial Guinea two years ago, to being a top performer in Bafana’s first ever win over Nigeria in an official game.

Ramahlwe Mphahlele (right) clears the danger as Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho and Mulomowandau Mathoho close in. Photo: Kabiru Abubakar, BackpagePix


Sibusiso Vilakazi – 4/10

His selection was a surprise in the first place, and he probably would have started on the bench if Kermit Erasmus was fit. Had good link-up plays and held the ball well now and again. It’s possible that he followed the game plan, but didn’t stand out.

Tokelo Rantie – 7/10

No way he could have been average. Played most of the first half with his back to goal, and therefore wasn’t as effective as he is known to be. The second half was a different ball-game, however, as he was able to peel away from defenders and eventually broke the deadlock in the 54th minute with a headed goal, his third in as many games against Nigeria.

Lebogang Manyama – 5/10

Came off the bench to replace Vilakazi, and looked lively and slightly more effective. Had a chance late in the game to add to the tally after some nifty footwork in the build-up, but skied his shot over the bar.

Percy Tau – 5/10

Played the super-sub role again with aplomb. Barely moments after he’d come on, Tau received a pass from Dolly and, because he was already keeping a high line, beat the offside trap as well as rounded the keeper to make it 2-0.

Tiyani Mabunda – Not on the pitch long enough for a rating, but was clearly thrown in to protect the lead and help tighten the midfield.

IOL Sport

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