Sunday Nov 17, 2019. 17:01
South Africa claimed a narrow 1-0 win over Sudan at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Sunday afternoon to register their first points in Group C of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Lebogang Phiri scored the only goal of the game to see Bafana Bafana join Ghana and Sudan in a three-way tie at the top of the pool and recover from their 2-0 loss at the hands of the West African side last week. Yet the Black Stars are very likely to open a three-point lead by beating Sao Tome & Principe on Monday.
South Africa dominated from early on and should have claimed the lead as soon as the second minute, with Thapelo Morena arriving late in the penalty area to pick up a loose ball and open space for a shot on goal, but he put his effort wide of the mark.
Bafana continued creating good chances – which were spurned by the likes of Thulani Serero and Lebogang Mothiba – while Sudan only posed a sporadic threat on the counter through the first half, with the Northeast African side struggling to live with the pace and intensity of the hosts.
As the half wore on the Falcons of Jediane began to look more and more comfortable in defence, but they were caught cold in the final minute of regulation time before the interval. Serero’s cross was only cleared as far as Lebogang Phiri, who fired an unstoppable shot into the top corner to see SA lead 1-0 at the break.
Sudan made two changes in the opening quarter hour of the second half, introducing both Nasreldin Abdalla and Yasir Mohamed in an attempt to get back into the match, but it was Bafana who continued to dominate possession.
They created several good openings by getting the overlapping fullbacks in behind Sudan’s defence, but too often the final cross or shot was left wanting and allowed goalkeeper Ali Aboeshren to keep his side in the contest.
The Sudanese shot-stopper made a fine block with his legs in the 77th minute as substitute Kermit Erasmus threatened to translate his excellent domestic form to the national team, with South Africa continuing to knock on the door for a second goal.
Another substitute, Bradley Grobler, had an effort ruled out for offside but his energy and competitiveness helped Bafana Bafana see out a much-needed win. They will resume their AFCON qualification campaign with back-to-back matches against Sao Tome & Principe (while Sudan will face Ghana) in August-September next year.
South Africa (1) 1 (Phiri 45’)
SA: Williams, Morena, Hlatshwayo, Mathoho, Hlanti, Phiri (Manyama 69’), Furman, Mokotjo, Serero (Grobler 75’), Tau, Mothiba (Erasmus 71’)
Sudan: Aboeshren, A. Mohamed, Suliman, Ismaeil, Elyas, A. Mahamoud (Nassir 65’), A. Ahmed, Mahmoud (Y.Mohamed 60’), Shareif, S. Abdelrahman (Abdalla 48’), Hamid