South Africa claimed an unconvincing 2-0 win over lowly-ranked Sao Tome and Principe in their 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Friday.
The victory moved Bafana Bafana to six points in Group C, three behind Ghana who claimed a 2-0 win over Sudan on Thursday to take a huge step towards qualification.
BAFANA BAFANA LACKED CUTTING EDGE
South Africa were in control for much of the first half, but lacked a cutting edge and when Adaim Gamboa fumbled the ball on 18 minutes to gift the hosts a chance, Percy Tau failed to pick the right option with the goal at Bafana Bafana’s mercy.
To their credit, Sao Tome and Principe ended the half on the front foot and created a couple of chances for Edmilson Viegas who was unable to test Ronwen Williams in the South African goal.
South Africa were awarded a penalty in the 55th minute following a foul on Tau inside the area. The Belgium-based forward duly dusted himself off and thumped the ball home for his 10th international goal.
Bafana Bafana should’ve doubled their lead 10 minutes later after Thapelo Morena picked out fellow Mamelodi Sundowns star Themba Zwane, but the latter failed to hit the target with the goalkeeper nowhere to be seen.
The hosts conjured further chances through Keagan Dolly and Mosa Lebusa before Sao Tome and Principe were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty of their own, after the ball clearly struck Lebogang Manyama on the arm in the penalty area.
Coach Molefti Ntseki had introduced Bongani Zungu in the 65th minute and the Rangers midfielder looked a cut above his team-mates.
Having survived a moment of good fortune at the other end, Bafana Bafana doubled their lead through Zungu who rose highest from a corner-kick to nod the ball home on the cusp of full-time.
The two teams will meet again on Monday with the fixture set for Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.