SOUTH Africa have secured a place at next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals after a 2-1 away win over Liberia at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Monrovia on Tuesday evening.
March 29, 2023
3 min read
Bafana claim hard-fought win, earn AFCON spot
Bafana Bafana in action against The Lone Star
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Bafana Bafana guaranteed a top-two finish in Group K alongside the already-qualified Morocco thanks to goals from Zakhele Lepasa and Mihlali Mayambela.
The Lone Star, meanwhile, will finish at the bottom of the three-team group regardless of the results of the remaining matches.
Liberia made most of the attacking play in the opening phase of the clash, but South Africa claimed the lead in 19 minutes. Thapelo Morena played a fine ball over the top of the defence to find Lepasa, who finished from close range to put the visitors 1-0 up.
Liberia responded strongly and levelled the game in the 35th minute, with William Jebor cutting inside from the left and letting fly with a low, long-range shot – goalkeeper Ronwen Williams got a hand to the effort, but not enough to prevent it finding the back of the net for 1-1.
The Lone Star looked for a second goal through what remained of the first half, but South Africa were able to hold firm in defence and went to the interval with the scores level at one apiece.
The hosts made a double change at the start of the second half, introducing Tonia Tisdell and Mohammed Sangare – players who both scored in the teams’ 2-2 draw in Soweto last week.
Yet it was Bafana Bafana who next found the back of the net: an attacking move down the left flank saw Percy Tau drive a low ball toward the near post which was fumbled by goalkeeper Tommy Songo’s, allowing Mihlali Mayambela to tuck home the rebound for 2-1 in the 53rd minute.
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Liberia had a half-chance to equalise on 70 minutes when a deflected cross gave Jebor a difficult opportunity on the volley, but he blazed a shot high and wide, while the 83rd minute brought a heart-in-mouth moment for SA as the ball looped across the goalmouth and forced some desperate defending.
Ultimately Bafana managed the dying minutes well, mostly keeping the ball in the Liberian half of the field, though they did need Williams to make one key interception close to his goal line in injury time to ensure the victory.
The Group K qualification campaign will feature just two further matches: South Africa at home to Morocco in June and Liberia visiting the North African side in September.
Liberia (1) 1 (Jabor 35’)
South Africa (1) 2 (Lepasa 19’, Mayambela 53’)
Liberia: Songo’s, N. Kenneh (Sangare 46’), Njie (Wilson 71’), Kamara (Salmon 73’), Jebor, Pabai, Balde, Dorley, T.L. Tisdell (T.D. Tisdell 46’), Dweh Jr, Adukor (Macauley 71’)
SA: Williams, Mobbie, Xulu, Mvala, Maela, Mokoena, Sithole (Kekana 80’), Morena, Mayambela (Hlongwane 63’), Tau (Mailula 68’), Lepasa. - SuperSport