JOHANNESBURG - If a ticket to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations was not at stake maybe this would have been a credible 1-1 draw against a side Bafana Bafana have only ever beaten once in 11 official matches since readmission.
But this result, forced into a stalemate when striker Lebo Mothiba cancelled out defender Buhle Mkhwanazi’s own goal, means South Africa must play their final Group E game away to Libya desperate for the full haul of points.
Far from ideal – Nigeria qualified for the Afcon thanks to this draw and their last fixture at home against lowly Seychelles will be a party.
Bafana MUST travel to Libya’s neutral venue (likely to be Tunisia) in March next year to try and seal qualification.
That’s SA in a nutshell. It always seems their preferred route to do things the hard way. Even here in front of a crowd that was mostly dominated by Nigerian supporters based in Johannesburg, Bafana had to come from behind to get a precious point.
Mkhwanazi had unfortunately put the ball in his own net following a poor attempt to clear Samuel Kalu’s cross, but instead confused goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune to give the Super Eagles the lead just 10 minutes into the game.
Credit to coach Stuart Baxter’s men for not putting their heads down, instead taking their opponents on in search of the equaliser.
When it finally came, it was a moment of brilliance from Percy Tau, who took out three Nigerian defenders to create an opening in the box and set up Mothiba for an easy tap in. That confirmed Mothiba’s prowess in front of goal: his fourth goal in five matches in a Bafana shirt, which helps him grow in confidence.
It was a performance they could be proud of even though the result wasn’t favourable at all. If Bafana had beaten Seychelles in Victoria last month instead of playing to a shock goalless draw, a point against Nigeria would have been enough.
Libya themselves went to minnows on Saturday and smashed them 8-1 in their own backyards. Why couldn’t Bafana do the same?
They will wait now to try finish the job four months from now against a Libya team that they failed to beat in Durban two months ago and one that will definitely fancy their chances with just one spot remaining for a ticket at the Afcon in Cameroon.
Bafana NEVER take the easy route.@superjourno