Bafana defeat Sao Tome 4-2 to win contest 6-2 on aggregate
JOHANNESBURG - It had its nervy moments. But Bafana Bafana ensured that they bagged maximum points against the lowly ranked Sao Tome and Principe in their second leg of the back-to-back 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Monday afternoon.
Bafana's 4-2 victory in Port Elizabeth against the islanders ensured that they remained second in Group C with nine points, tied with leaders Ghana who’ll face Sudan in the second leg. But with two matches to play, Bafana are in a favourable position to qualify for the finals in Cameroon.
However, having coach Molefi Ntseki emphasized that they want to finish top of the group, he’ll know that there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done ahead of their clashes against Ghana and Sudan, despite thrashing the islanders 6-2 on aggregate in three days.
With yesterday’s qualifier rescheduled to be hosted in the country amid travelling restrictions, you’d have expected Bafana to be the commanding side from the start to finish. But again, they warmed up late, only to dictate terms in the second half.
But that paid dividends – as they ensured that they bagged all six points in the back-to-back contest. But coach Ntseki should be aware not is too well with his game-plan after Bafana trailed early into the encounter.
In the 12th minute, Bafana’s defence failed to cover all spaces during Sao Tome’s corner-kick. Captain Joazhifel Pontes created space for himself in Bafana’s box before meeting the cross and placing his header to the far post, leaving goalkeeper Ronwen Williams helpless.
But that proved to be a wakeup call for Bafana as they pushed for an equaliser. Lebogang Manyama, however, failed to make the most of his team’s chances, blasting a close-range set-piece over the crossbar as Sao Tome held on.
Bafana’s organisation, however, paid dividends before half-time. Dean Furman unleashed a defence splitting pass from the engine room that found Themba Zwane who stood his ground to slot past an onrushing Adaima Gamboa. 1-1 during halftime.
But the South African showed more vigour and purpose in the second half. And despite turning the game on its head, and taking the lead before Sao Tome equalised, they were made to sweat, especially after more wasteful antics from Manyama.
After being teed by Zwane with a diagonal pass in front of goals, Manyama unceremoniously rattled his effort against the woodwork. Soon thereafter, the Kaizer Chiefs’ man failed to make the easiest of tap-in, after the ball bumped on his shin pads.
But South Africa’s golden boy yet again rose to the occasion to put his side in the driving seat. After a lovely cut-back assist from Zwane, Percy Tau created acres of space for himself before thumping his effort into the top corner – to score his second goal in as many matches.
Bafana were given a scare after Sao Tome equalised from Harramiz Soares. South Africa’s never-say-die attitude, however, paid dividends. Substitute Kermit Erasmus raced his way into Sao Tome's box before unleashing a hard shot that was parried by Gamboa to Zwane for an easy tap-in.
Tau, however, would soon wrap up the hard-fought victory in style. After benefiting from a loose ball from the engine room, the 26-year-old found himself in a one-on-one duel with Gamboa, who was in no man’s leg, before pouncing his weighted ball into an empty net.
Sao Tome (1) (2)
Pontes 12’ and H. Soares 71’
South Africa (1) (4)
Zwane 39’, 87’ and Tau 70’, 88’