Saturday Oct 09, 2021. 17:00
South Africa have taken charge of Group G in the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers after a 3-1 away win over Ethiopia at the Bahir Dar Stadium on Saturday.
The result – which was secured by goals from Teboho Mokoena, Mothobi Mvala and Evidence Makgopa, as well as an excellent goalkeeping showing from Ronwen Williams – sees Bafana Bafana top the log with seven points, four ahead of Ghana (who have a game in hand against bottom-of-the-log Zimbabwe later today) and the Walia Ibex.
South Africa started strongly and almost forced a goal in the opening minutes, with a scrum in the penalty area ending with the ball rebounding just wide of the mark.
On nine minutes a Bafana free kick whipped into the penalty area found Tshegofatso Mabasa, but the Orlando Pirates striker was stretching to get his head onto the ball and couldn’t direct an effort on target.
Ethiopia slowly settled into the game and began to threaten on transition, with SA goalkeeper Ronwen Williams forced to come quickly off his line to prevent Getaneh Kebede getting in on goal around the midway point of the first half.
On 26 minutes Walia Ibex midfielder Surafel Dagnachew let fly with a fine effort from long range, but Williams was able to tip the ball over for a corner kick.
Just past the half-hour mark South Africa threatened again through a fine run and shot from Thabiso Kutumela which flashed just wide of the mark, before Mabasa made way a few minutes later to allow the introduction of Victor Letsoalo off the bench.
The best chances of the first half both went the way of Ethiopia’s Abubeker Ahmed between 35 and 40 minutes, who twice managed to slip in behind Bafana Bafana’s defence, but Williams made superb one-on-one saves to keep the score at 0-0.
While Williams was excellent at one end, Ethiopia’s Fasil Gebremichael gifted the visiting team the opening goal on the strike of half time. A Teboho Mokoena free kick was struck on target but should have been easily saved; instead the ‘keeper somehow fumbled the ball into the net to see Bafana 1-0 up at the interval.
Ethiopia pushed for an equaliser early in the second half, with Dagnachew once again threatening from long range with a shot which flew just wide of Williams’s right-hand post on 55 minutes.
The leveller arrived midway through the second stanza, with Kebede striking a beautiful shot direct from a free kick just outside the penalty area. The former Bidvest Wits striker’s effort found the top corner on 67 minutes and gave Williams no chance.
Parity lasted less than five minutes, with South Africa reclaiming the lead on 72 minutes: a long throw-in was accidentally flicked on by Kebede in his own penalty area, with Mvala arriving to meet the ball and sweep home a low shot for 2-1.
A third Bafana goal was inches away in the 80th minute, with substitute Evidence Makgopa beating the ‘keeper to a cross from the right, but his glancing header rebounded off the crossbar. Yet the lanky striker made it 3-1 early in injury time, providing a lovely lobbed finish over the advancing ‘keeper to seal a potentially crucial win for Bafana Bafana.
The teams will meet in the reverse fixture at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday 12 October.
Ethiopia (0) 1 (Kebede 67’)
South Africa (1) 3 (Mokoena/F. Gebremichael og 45+1’, Mvala 72’, Makgopa 90+1’)
Ethiopia: F. Gebremichael, Tunjo, Tamene, Baye, Yesuf (A. Yohannes 68’), Dagnachew, Endeshaw (D. Yohannes 68’), Bekele (Tafesse 76’), A. Gebremichael (Yalew 76’), Ahmed, Kebede
SA: Williams, Mobbie, De Reuck, Xulu, Mashego, Mvala, Brooks (Maart 79’), Mokoena (Zuke 90+4’), Hlongwane, Kutumela (Makgopa 79’), Mabasa (Letsoalo 35’)