Bafana defeat Sao Tome 2-0 at home
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JOHANNESBURG - Bafana Bafana unceremoniously had to labour for a 2-0 win over the lowly ranked Sao Tome and Principe in the first leg of the back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers at home, Moses Mabhida Stadium, on Friday night.
With this less convincing victory - for the hosts, who only showed their prowess in the second half - Bafana remained second in Group C with six points, three behind leaders Ghana who defeated third placed Sudan 2-0 at home on Thursday.
The South Africans, though, will get another chance to dish up a convincing outing when they visit the 182 ranked islanders in the world in the second leg at the Nelson Mandela Stadium on Monday – after Caf and Safa agreed for the away match to be played in the country as well.
Through the set-backs of withdrawals, due to injuries and health concerns, and late arrivals of overseas-based players, Bafana were bound to have cracks here and there in their set-up. But that they had no shots on target in the first half was overwhelming.
In fact, had Sao Tome, the 200000 populated nation, been clinical in front of goal, they should have gone into the interval with a healthy lead as their counter-attacks on either flank were threatening for Bafana’s back four and goalkeeper Ronwen Williams.
Bafana Bafana v Sao Tome starting 11:— Bafana Bafana (@BafanaBafana) November 13, 2020
Ronwen Williams (GK), Thapelo Morena, Innocent Maela, Mosa Lebusa, Thulani Hlatshwayo (C), Dean Furman, Percy Tau, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Lebogang Manyama, Themba Zwane, Keagan Dolly. pic.twitter.com/2P9iCWWgdo
Harramiz Soares was the first to test the waters on Bafana’s defence. After a delightful curling ball from Edmilson Viegas down the right flank, Soares found himself ahead of Bafana’s defence but he unceremoniously put his low shot on the side netting.
That scare woke up Bafana. The South Africans started to play with more purpose, coming out of their blocks and taking the game to the visitors. They’d soon give the visitors something to worry about as Innocent Maela looked to be fouled by Viegas in the box.
But despite the nudge, the bulky wingback got away with the infringement. Soon thereafter, Percy Tau was presented with a gift by goalkeeper Adam Gamboa, who let the ball slip through his arms, albeit not being under any form of danger.
The Bafana talisman, however, didn’t grasp the opportunity, failing to take responsibility as his cut-back was cleared by Sao Tome’s defence. Tau nearly turned provider, from thereon, but his corner-kick was blasted on top of goal by Lebogang Manyama.
The visitors had a stronger finish to the half. But Viegas, who had acres of space, failed to make his team’s opportunity count after as he skied a close-range header into the stands after a delightful ball from Soares down the left flank.
Bafana, however, turned the game on its head in the second half – thanks to whatever may have been said by coach Molefi Ntseki during half. Bafana's efforts of playing on build-ups, and creating spaces paid dividends for them in the first 10 minutes of the half.
Tau found himself inside Sao Tome’s box, and subsequently won a penalty. The RSC Anderlect forward dusted himself off and slotted with ease. Keagan Dolly should have added to Bafana’s lead but his pin-point shot was delightfully blocked by substitute goalkeeper Traure Martins.
Martins would again save his team from the blushes after saving Mosa Lebusa goal-bound header from close-range following a delivery from Manyama. But the Chiefs’ man finally got his assist, teeing up substitute Bongani Zungu for Bafana's second on the stroke of regulation time.