Bafana beat Burkina Faso to revive 2018 World Cup hopes
The chameleon that is Bafana Bafana flared their winning colours on Saturday, a fierce and noxious blend of red and orange and purple that would have scared off an elephant as they overwhelmed Burkina Faso 3-1 in their World Cup qualifier at FNB Stadium.
This was the Bafana, in a fired up first half, in the rampant fashion of the side who overwhelmed Nigeria 2-0 for SA's first competitive win against the Super Eagles in Uyo in June.
Goals from Percy Tau in the first minute, Themba Zwane (34th), and Sibusiso Vilakazi a minute into first-half injury time won the game.
Bongani Zungu was sent off for Bafana in the 67th. Alain Traore pulled a consolation back for Burkina with a finely-curled free-kick in the 87th.
On a wet pitch, at times in driving rain, SA kept their Russia 2018 hopes alive with one of the victories that they need from their last three games. Now the imposing task of two more against Senegal.
One can only hope the other colour of the chameleon - the grey and insipid one that sometimes is a result of overconfidence from a fine result like this one, such as in their two devastatingly frigid defeats against Cape Verde last month - is now a thing of the past.
The case for Tau, and also Andile Jali and Kamohelo Mokotjo, to have played a greater role against Cape Verde was strengthened by the three putting in fine performances starting as coach Stuart Baxter wrung eight changes.
On paper, this Burkina team have three or four class performers - among them Bertrand Traore and Prejuce Nakoulma - but apart from that, very little. Two of their starters - Cyrille Bayala and Blati Toure - are based in Cyprus.
Suggestions that Bafana just do not have the strength in players are unfounded. They had noticeably the greater all-round class on Saturday.
SA opened the scoring inside the first minute. From Zwane's corner Tau's flick-on was directed onto the right upright, and bounced just inside a horizontal angle across the face of goal before being palmed out by goalkeeper Herve Koffi.
TV replays appeared to show the ball had crossed the line.
Slowly an interesting Bafana formation - Andile Jali lacking pace for a deep striker role behind a bursting-with-explosive-potential Tau, but with physical presence and intelligence - gained momentum.
They doubled the score, opening Burkina with Jali's pass through to Zwane. The man who had struck the post in Bafana's 2-0 win against Nigeria in June calmly slotted low past Koffi.
Then Tau snuck behind the defence to collect Itumeleng Khune's long-ball over the top and controlled for what seemed too long. His genius was revealed in a glorious piece of skill and backheel to put Vilakazi through, who also finished low past Koffi.
Early in the second half, more skill from Tau saw Vilakazi through on Koffi, the keeper spreading and getting a touch to the Mamelodi Sundowns man's attempted chip .
Bafana suffered a second red card in three games when, after Burkina midfielder Charles Kabore was roughing up Kamohelo Mokotjo, Bongani Zungu got involved in an ensuing fracas with what appeared a push, and was sent off.
Traore struck a world-class free-kick past a stationary Khune too late for Burkina. - TimesLIVE