Lacklustre Bafana make heavy weather of disposing of modest Sudan in Afcon qualifier
Bafana Bafana got their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign back on track with a lacklustre 1-0 win over modest Sudan at Orlando Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Coach Molefi Ntseki's charges went into this game under pressure after losing 2-0 to Ghana in their opening qualifying match away from home a few days ago‚ but they got the three crucial points thanks to a first half goal by French-based attacker Lebogang Phiri.
Phiri‚ who earns a living at Guingamp in the French Ligue 2‚ profited handsomely from this encounter as he walked away with the man of the match award and also scored the winner with a thunderous shot from close range on the stroke of half time.
Bafana are now tied on three points with Sudan and Ghana after Sunday's result.
But Ghana's Blacks Stars might go to the top of Group C with six points if they beat minnows São Tomé and Príncipe away from home on Monday.
Bafana will have to wait until August next year to improve their position on the table when they host São Tomé and Príncipe in the third round of a qualifying programme that is sandwiched between World Cup qualifiers in March.
Though Bafana got all the three points on offer in Soweto‚ it has to be added that they made heavy weather of this win and failed to overpower an average Sudan side that is ranked 128 on the Fifa rankings.
Bafana were the first to threaten during the early stages but they missed a good opportunity to open the scoring when Thapelo Morena’s shot went wide off the target.
The home side's earliest chance came as a result of a crisp team attacking move and that saw deft touches from Phiri‚ Thulani Serero and Kamohelo Mokotjo carve open the Sudan defence like a hot knife through butter.
The early chance inspired Bafana as two minutes later Phiri delivered a telling cross into the box‚ but Serero’s close range shot was parried away to safety by alert Ali Abdalla Aboeshren in goal for the visitors.
Bafana continued to press forward and after 15 minutes Serero watched in disbelief as his well-taken shot from outside the box went over the cross-bar with Aboeshren beaten.
Sudan did not roll over and play dead at Bafana's feet as they also had notable moments in the game that were largely orchestrated by their big attacking central midfielder Sharaf Ali Abdelrahman.
But their impressive build ups were undone at crucial moments and they seemed run out of ideas when they came within sniffing distance of the Bafana danger area.
The visitors managed to get behind the South African defence with a long pass from midfield in the 23rd minute and after the ball found Ramadan Agab Shareif‚ his shot did not have enough venom to trouble goalkeeper Ronwen Williams.
In the second half Bafana coach Ntseki rang the changes as he had promised on the eve of the game with Lebogang Manyama‚ Bradley Grobler and Kermit Erasmus coming on for Phiri‚ Serero and Mothiba respectively.
But the trio could not affect the result of this match and it eventually ended at 1-0.
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