South Africa breathed new life into their Africa Cup of Nations campaign with a slim 1-0 win over neighbours Namibia.
Billed as a local derby, there was plenty at stake in Friday’s Group D encounter: both sides had fallen to defeat in their openers, and needed a result to keep their aspirations alive.
In a tepid atmosphere at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo, neither side was able to get going with any real fluency in the opening period. Bafana made a couple of changes from the side that lost against Cote d’Ivoire, and struggled for cohesion, especially in midfield. Sibusiso Vilakazi’s effort over the top, after some neat interplay on the edge of the box, was the closest either side came to breaking the deadlock.
The stakes were upped in the second half, however.
Sifiso Hlanti drew an ultimately comfortable save from Lloyd Kazapua after Percy Tau had played him on the overlap, and then Deon Hotto saw his shot cleared off the line by Buhle Mkhwanazi after Bafana goalkeeper Darren Keet fumbled a cross into his path.
South Africa would finally break the deadlock in the 68th minute. Tau’s corner kick found Bongani Zungu completely unmarked at the far post, and the Amiens midfielder gratefully accepted the gift, nodding into an unguarded net for the lead.
It was also a bit of history for Bafana: their first AFCON goal since 2015 – two editions ago.
The score could have been more comfortable, with striker Lebo Mothiba barely inches away from connecting with a teasing Tau ball across the face of goal.
The result takes South Africa level on points with Cote d’Ivoire in Group D. Bafana will go into their final group game against Morocco knowing that a draw should, at the very least, give them one of the best third-place slots, depending on results elsewhere.