Bittersweet victory for Bafana Bafana in Gambia
Bafana Bafana left their best result of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers to when it no longer mattered with Saturday's 4-0 deconstruction of Gambia at Independence Stadium in Bakau.
Thamsanqa Gabuza’s first-half brace in the 29th and 38th minutes‚ and Keagan Dolly’s two sweet strikes from range (56th‚ 80th) gave Bafana their best ever away win.
Cameroon‚ 1-0 winners against Mauritania in Nouakchott on Friday‚ have already qualified for Gabon 2017 as unassailable Group M winners on 11 points.
Bafana are in third place on six points‚ behind Mauritania‚ who have seven. Gambia are in fourth on two.
Neither Bafana nor Mauritania – who meet in their final match in SA in early September – stand any realistic chance of reeling in the current leaders for two best runners-up places‚ where Liberia and Cape Verde are already on nine points.
Bafana would have been wondering how this 165th-ranked team could ever have held them to the 0-0 draw in the opening match of the campaign in Durban last year that put South Africa under so much pressure in the group.
South Africa goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune never had to make a save in a first half where Orlando Pirates striker Gabuza could have scored a hat-trick.
The South Africans looked a more dangerous side after the introduction of Bidvest Wits playmaker Sibusiso Vilakazi for Thulani Serero‚ who was stretchered off in the 25th minute.
Bafana opened the scoring when Dolly’s low ball drilled in from the left was played on by Vilakazi into the path of Gabuza on the right‚ who controlled then produced a powerful finish past goalkeeper Alagie Nyabally.
Nine minutes later it was 2-0‚ Dolly finding space down the left again and his cross being met by Gabuza steaming in at the near post‚ the Bucs striker easily burying a second.
Five minutes after the break Bubacarr Trawally cut in from the right and forced a good close-range save from Bafana captain Khune.
Then it was 3-0‚ as a classy touch from Vilakazi teed up Dolly‚ who hit a well-struck shot from 22 metres that left Nyabally rooted to the spot.
Dolly received the ball 25 metres from goal then unleashed an even better strike past Nyabally to make it 4-0.
- TMG Digital