As if their Tuesday couldn’t get any worse, Bafana Bafana were pushed into second place in Group E qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations after Nigeria beat Libya later in the day.
Odion Ighalo scored a well-taken winner in the 81st minute at neutral venue Stade Taieb Mhiri in Sfax, Tunisia on Tuesday night – his fifth goal in two matches – to hand the Super Eagles a vital 3-2 win that took them to the top of Group E.
The Nigerians were made to work hard for the crucial three points. They led 2-0 after 17 minutes as Ighalo opened the scoring, and he also set up the second for World Cup star striker Ahmed Musa a few minutes later.
Mohamed Zaebiaa reduced the deficit for Libya with a header in the 34th minute, and Ahmad Ben Ali equalised with about 15 minutes left.
But just when the Libyans thought they’d secured a point, Ighalo grabbed the winner with a cool finish inside the box.
The result makes life much tougher for Bafana to qualify for Cameroon 2019.
After their lacklustre goalless draw with Seychelles at Stade Linité on Tuesday afternoon, the South Africans are on eight points, one behind Nigeria and four ahead of Libya.
On the surface, it looks like a two-horse race where Nigeria and SA will advance as the qualifiers from Group E.
But Libya will fancy their chances of beating Seychelles away from home on November 16, while Bafana will be underdogs against Nigeria at the FNB Stadium on the same day – especially after the performance they produced on Tuesday.
If Bafana lose and Libya win, that second spot would then be decided in the final qualifier between the two nations on March 22 next year in Libya’s alternate home venue.
The South Africans were held to a 0-0 score-line by Libya at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on September 8.