Bafana Bafana (0) 0
Libya (0) 0
Bafana Bafana did what they know best today which is to disappoint when it matters the most.
They were held to 0-0 stalemate by Libya in a crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban in a game where they were made to look average. It was another uninspiring display under Baxter's tenure.
The masses in South Africa expected Bafana to roll past Libya but Baxter and his troops had other ideas.
It was the same thing last year at Moses Mabhida as Bafana were humbled by Cape Verde in a crucial World Cup qualifier. The Islanders walked away with maximum points.
In 2015, Gambia, also held Bafana to a 0-0 scoreline at the same venue during the qualification for the Afcon in Gabon.
So, they know how to disappoint at Mabhida when it matters the most and they did exactly that. The result meant that the group is now open with Nigeria registering their first win against Seychelles. Bafana are tied with Libya on four points now and they will play Seychelles home and away in their two upcoming qualifiers.
Baxter made a surprise selection upfront as he opted to start with Vincent Pule, ahead of the red-hot, Bradley Grobler.
Percy Tau was tasked with the responsibility of leading the line upfront while Pule operated as winger.
The Orlando Pirates winger seemed to have a love affair with Durban. Last season he netted the winner with a cheeky backheel as his former side, Bidvest Wits downed Bloemfontein Celtic to capture the Telkom Knockout crown at Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu.
He made his debut in the same province that holds great memories for him. Ahead of the game, Baxter, pointed out that Libya are vulnerable in the air and as a result, it was expected that he would go with Grobler who is deadly in the air but decided otherwise.
Strangely, Bafana were floating a lot of crosses in the box as they tried to find Tau who is not that much effective with his head.
The weather conditions didn't behave in KZN as it was raining heavily but not on the goal front
Dean Furman almost scored with a lovely chip but his ball went over the bar earlier in the match.
Libya showed that they are here to play as Rabia Alshadi found space in the box and tested Khune on his near post but the Kaizer Chiefs goal-minder was well positioned to make what looked like dangerous ball in to a comfortable diving save.
The woodwork came to Bafana's rescue 15 minutes in to the game as Anias Saltou hit the upright following a lovely cross by Hamdou Elhouni who was causing a havoc for Ramahlwe Mphahlele at right back.
The best chance for Bafana came via a set piece. Keagan Dolly whipped a telling cross to Mphahlele who flicked his header towards goal but Sand Masaud made an important goal clearance as he denied Bafana an opportunity to take the lead.
Khune was working over time between the posts. He really earned his money with two brilliant saves midway through the first half. Libya were by far the better team in the first half. They played with more fluidity when they were attacking and they looked lively in the final third.
Bafana lacked agency, creativity and precision in their play. They were lethargic. Tau tried to produce the moment of magic 10 minutes before the interval as he executed an audacious tricky to get his short on target.
Bafana finally came to life before the interval. Dolly delivered an exquisite cross in the box as he attempted to find Tau but his ball was blocked by Masaud and felt on the path of the debubant, Pule.
Instead of selling the dummy to Masaud, the Pirates attacker tried to blast it but Masaud made another defining block to Bafana at bay.
Second half saw the change of tactics. Baxter sacrificed Pule and brought in Grobler.
Buhle Mkhwanazi fluffed a glorious opportunity with his head minutes after the interval. Dolly was the provider again.
Libya made Bafana look average as they matched them in every department.
The only time when Bafana looked like they were going to score was during set plays.
Bafana were in sixes and sevens at the back. Furman made another important clearance to deny Elshadi during the second half.
Vilakazi had an off day and fans lost patience and they rolled their fingers suggesting that he should be replaced. Baxter listened as he took him off and replaced him with Audrey Modiba.
Bafana will have to work diligently if they want to be in the flight to Cameroon next year in June. They left the nation with no hope with their sluggish display.@minenhlecr7