JOHANNESBURG – Egypt here we come!
The Africa Cup of Nations dream became a reality for Bafana Bafana yesterday, thanks to the finishing brilliance of Percy Tau and Darren Keet’s impressively safe hands.
Tau showed just what a classy player he is with a brace that helped South Africa sink Libya in Sfax, Tunisia, last night. And to think that Stuart Baxter had initially not rated the nippy striker and left him out of the team. In the end it was the former SA Footballer of the Year who ensured Baxter kept his position as Bafana coach with his brilliantly taken goals in the second half.
Tau put Bafana ahead with a brilliant shot from the edge of the box, the forward feigning to shoot and then delivering a sweet strike that the keeper had no chance to stop. That lead, however, did not last too long as Keet conceded a silly penalty by inconceivably lifting his foot up while collecting the ball and kicking a Libyan striker. Ben Ali easily converted the chance.
But Tau put Bafana back ahead shortly thereafter with a fantastic shot from inside the box through a cluster of defenders. He should have completed his hat-trick some three minutes from the end but incredibly sent the ball wide.
It had not looked like Bafana would have it their way early on though. A tension-filled first half ended goalless, but it was not for a lack of trying, by Libya in particular.
And it was only the brilliance of Keet in goal that ensured the South African net did not bulge. The big goalkeeper pulled off some brilliant saves to keep Libya at bay as his defence let him down.
It was not all Libya though as Bafana also asked questions of their own and Themba Zwane forced a corner kick with a good shot from close by.
Some hours before kick off, the Bafana crowd gathered in Sandton for the public viewing of the match were divided as to what they expect to transpire.
The die-hard fans expressed their optimism, confident that Baxter and his men will deliver. But the long-suffering followers of the country’s senior national team, those whose knowledge of Baxter’s history with the squad ran deep, were not so positive.
“Baxter has let us down a lot of time and I am sure he will do it again,” said one.
When the national anthem got botched and was played without the English and Afrikaans parts, some read that as a bad omen.
Played in neutral Sfax, the match was surprisingly played in a full stadium and that was again seen by the crowd here as a negative for Bafana.
@BafanaBafana leaving Sfax this morning. Off to Tunis then Dubai enroute South Africa. The team will land at OR Tambo tomorrow morning at 11am #AFCON2019Q @SAFA_net @CAF_Online @Banyana_Banyana pic.twitter.com/VecAtre0Gg— Bafana Bafana (@BafanaBafana) March 25, 2019
The list of reasons why qualification for Egypt 2019 was going to be near impossible did not end there though. The identity of the match officials was another sore point, the fact that they were north Africans leading to murmurings about how pathetic Caf are.
In the end though, all of that did not matter thanks to Tau and Keet, that penalty error notwithstanding.@Tshiliboy