A late strike by Orlando Pirates starlet Menzi Masuku gave the South Africa’s U-23 side an easy passage to the semi-finals of the 2015 CAF U23 Africa Cup of Nations tournament when they defeated Tunisia 1-0 during their final Group A encounter held at Stade Caroline Faye in M’Bour on Friday night.
Although the South Africans lacked venom in front of goal, they took the match to the North Africans when the brace hero against Zambia on Tuesday, Gift Motupa, saw his shot going wide, however, they were also under attack after conceding a free kick but Kwanda Mngonyama cleared the danger.
After 15 minutes of action, Siphelele Ntshangase penetrated the Tunisians before taking a shot at goal, but he failed to hit the target and missed wide of Ben Sabri’s posts.
With the Tunisians kept under pressure, captain Keagan Dolly nearly grabbed the lead when his sweet free kick was saved by the goalkeeper in the 23rd minute.
Against the run of play, Tunisia bounced back and probed for a goal but the lanky Mngonyama was equal to the task despite nearly conceding a corner kick.
In the dying minutes of the first half, Abbubaker Mobara unleashed a powerful shot from a set piece but it was cleared and Dolly's follow up attempt was safely collected by Sabri.
Upon their return from the tunnel, the Tunisians came back stronger and were rewarded with a corner but Mngonyama was again ready to clear the danger.
Towards the 70th minute, ODG introduced Phakamani Mahlambi of Bidvest Wits for Black Leopards’ Siphelele Ntshangase and a few seconds later, Mobara saw his set piece flying over the woodwork.
After 80 minutes of action, both sides failed to create clear cut chances but it was Motupa who nearly scored after he broke free, however, he lacked composure and missed a golden opportunity.
However, with five minutes to go, Menzi Masuku grabbed his second goal of the tournament when he received an assist the enterprising Mahlambi. The Orlando pirates man sent the South Africans through to the semis.
ODG’s men join the hosts and winners of the group, Senegal, who beat Zambia in the other match.
South Africa: (0) 1 (Masuku 85’)
South Africa: February, Mngonyama, Coetzee, Moerane, Mobara, Dolly, Motupa, P. Ntshangase (Mahlambi 60’), S. Ntshangase, Masuku (Rikhotso 89’), Mekoa
Tunisia: Ben Sabri, Kechrida, Kchok, Mechan, Yassine, Jelassi, Khelil, Abd (Jaibi 64’), Jouini, Ghandri, Mansour