AFCON: South Africa Stay In Hunt For Last-16 Spot After Laboured Win

South Africa’s midfielder Bongani Zungu celebrates his goal during the match at the Al Salam Stadium in the Egyptian capital Cairo on June 28, 2019. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP


France-based Bongani Zungu scored as unimpressive South Africa laboured to a 1-0 Africa Cup of Nations Group D win over Namibia Friday to keep alive hopes of making the second round.

However, to book a last-16 place the winners will probably need at least a point against leaders Morocco, who defeated the Ivory Coast 1-0 in the first match of a double-header.

Already qualified Morocco have six points, the Ivory Coast and South Africa three each and Namibia remained pointless after two solitary-goal losses.

With Ivory Coast set to beat Namibia Monday, the best South Africa can realistically hope for is one of four places reserved for the best third-place finishers.

It looks increasingly likely that teams coming third in the six groups will need a minimum of four points to be among the quartet that survives.

Zungu netted on 68 minutes with a header off a corner to settle a match that lacked the quality of the clash between Morocco and the Ivory Coast.

South Africa made four changes to the team that started in a loss to the Ivory Coast four days ago, including the shock demotion of goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, who was outstanding.

He was replaced by Darren Keet and Hlompho Kekana, Zungu and Sibusiso Vilakazi were also promoted with Kamohelo Mokotjo, Lebohang Maboe and injured Dean Furman dropping out.

Namibia coach Ricardo Mannetti included Egypt-based Benson Shilongo for Absalom Limbondi in the lone change to the side that unluckily lost to Morocco after conceding a late own-goal.

Blazed Over

South Africa had a chance to go ahead on 16 minutes, but Vilakazi blazed over at the Al Salam Stadium in the Egyptian capital after a Themba Zwane backheel gave him a clear sight of goal.

Mannetti must have been pleased when the 21st minute passed as he was part of the side trailing South Africa 4-0 at that point when they last met 21 years ago in Burkina Faso.

Now retired Benni McCarthy scored all four Bafana Bafana (The Boys) goals in the victory and how England-born coach Stuart Baxter must have longed for someone similarly clinical in this match.

South Africa had plenty of possession, but lacked creativity in the final third of the pitch and their frustration led to many hopeful, long-range shots.

Namibia, with four South Africa-based players in the line-up, held their own and did not resemble a side 41 places lower in the world rankings.

Percy Tau, of whom much had been expected in this Cup of Nations, could have broken the deadlock as half-time approached but a weak shot was comfortably saved by Loydt Kazapua.

Deon Hotto came close to putting Namibia ahead midway through the second half after Keet spilled a cross and the Namibian had his shot cleared off the line by Buhle Mkhwanazi.

Almost immediately, South Africa forced a corner and Zungu from Ligue 1 outfit Amiens rose unchallenged in the middle of the six-yard box to nod the former champions into the lead.


Ahmed Musa Shines As Super Eagles Draw Bafana Bafana

Super EaglesAn injury time goal by Bongani Zungu helped South Africa to salvage a 1-1 draw with the Super Eagles of Nigeria in a friendly at Mbombela Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Zungu, with virtually the last kick of the game, earned a draw for the home side who had missed several chances in the game.

Nigeria’s interim coach, Daniel Amokachi, expressed disappointment at the manner in which his team surrendered their hard earned lead in the match.

Although the Super Eagles caretaker coach believes the draw with South Africa was a fair result, owing to how many chances were missed by the highly dominant Bafana Bafana, he expected his team would have shown more maturity in protecting their one goal lead.

An inexperienced Super Eagles outfit looked to be heading for victory when Ahmed Musa beat Itumeleng Khune with a fierce drive into the top corner in the 85th minute.

Amokachi said after the game, “It is fair game, coming away from home after losing to Uganda.

“Ninety-eight percent of the players are having their first, second or third cap.

“It is fair result but when your are winning and one goal up, conceding is not good. But that’s football, it’s not over until the fat lady sings and that’s what happened to us.”

He, however, had kind words for the Super Eagles’ stand-in captain and scorer of the team’s lone goal, Ahmed Musa.

He said that Ahmed Musa’s strike against Bafana Bafana reminded him of the goal the CSKA Moscow winger scored against Argentina at the 2014 World Cup.

“He’s a good player, we all know what an experienced player he is and what a world class player he is, and you could see the difference in the goal he scored,” says Amokachi.

“It’s also reminiscent of the goal he scored against Argentina at the World Cup.

“He’s brilliant at getting the ball and turning at the edge of the 18-yard area, and swinging it into the corner.”

Nigeria fielded a largely inexperienced team during the stalemate, and Amokachi says the test was to see whether they could perform to an expected level.