10 June 2013
Bafana Bafana enhanced their chances of playing in the 2014 Fifa World Cup with a hard-fought but convincing 3-0 victory over the Central African Republic (CAR) in Yaounde, Cameroon on Saturday.
However, Group A leaders Ethiopia won 2-1 against Botswana in Lobatse, making next Sunday’s encounter in Addis Ababa a likely decider of the winner of the group.
“The CAR team is really a tough side. They showed it both in Cape Town, and again today. But I am proud of my boys. They had so much belief and worked for each other,” coach Gordon Igesund said after his team’s victory.
“I like the team spirit. The guys on the bench were celebrating with the players on the field, and that is what builds true camaraderie, which I believe we had today. I just want to celebrate this win tonight (Saturday) and tomorrow I will start thinking about Ethiopia.”
Igesund added: “I am proud of the players because since our match with Lesotho last weekend, we had only one training session due to some setbacks we do not want talk about again. Winning 3-0 away from home shows some character. I am happy with the score line, though we dropped a bit in the second half.
“We can build the momentum from this result going to Ethiopia.”
The match between Bafana Bafana and CAR was moved to a neutral venue due to political instability in the Central African state and preparations for Bafana were less than ideal as they were first stranded in Douala and missed a day’s training before embarking on a treacherous road trip to Yaounde.
The CAR started the qualifier brightly but Bafana Bafana fought off an early onslaught to break the deadlock on 26 minutes through Bernard Parker. The Kaizer Chiefs hitman scored when he was fed by Siphiwe Tshabalala, who had a blinder of a game. After collecting the ball in his own half, “Shabba” slotted it through to Parker, who reacted quickly to beat a CAR offside trap before slipping in the opening goal.
Tshabalala then added his name to the score-sheet to make it 2-0 in the 41st minute following a fine midfield interchange with Reneilwe Letsholonyane, which ended with Tshabalala breaking free and rounding the goalkeeper before planting the ball in the back of the net.
Parker almost made it 3-0 on 47 minutes, but Emmanuel Yezzoat, in the CAR goal, did well to smother a threatening move. A minute later Khune was called into action to deny the CAR.
Moroka Swallows’ star Katlego Mashego, who came on for Parker, increased the score to 3-0 in stoppage time following a solo run by Oupa Manyisa. The Orlando Pirates’ man had come on for Tokelo Rantie.
It was a vintage performance by Igesund’s men, setting up what looks like a treat of a game next Sunday. In fact, apart from the opening minutes of the game, Bafana never looked like losing in Yaounde.
The defence was impressive and gave nothing away. At the same time, the midfield was effective and the two goals from the midfielders gives credence to their effectiveness.
Bafana captain Itumeleng Khune commented: “I am a big fan of team effort. This is not about me or anyone else but Bafana Bafana. Three goals and a clean sheet, we could not have asked for anything better.
“We showed mental strength out there. The approach to the game was positive. That is why we came out tops,” Khune said.
“For now, we need to enjoy the victory but must quickly remember that we still have a mountain to climb in Addis Ababa. Both teams have won their matches and they will go into this clash high in spirits. But I am positive we can complete this mission.”
With three points safely secured in the bag, Bafana Bafana head to Addis Ababa for what should be a bruising battle for the Group A leadership.
Ethiopia remain out front of the group with 10 points from four matches, with three wins and a draw in South Africa. Bafana Bafana are second with two wins and two draws, on eight points.
The CAR lies third on three points after a win over Botswana and three losses, two of them to South Africa. Botswana are bottom of the table with one point from a draw with South Africa in Botswana. They have lost the other three games they have played.
- 15 June Botswana vs CAR, Lobatse Stadium, Lobatse
- 15 June Ethiopia vs SA, Addis Ababa Stadium, Addis Ababa
- 6 September SA vs Botswana, TBA
- 6 September CAR vs Ethiopia, TBA
SAinfo reporter and South African Football Association