A SWEET VIC­TORY

De­spite the vic­tory, SA is still bot­tom of group D and must beat Sene­gal to stay in the game

CityPress - - Front Page - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI at FNB Sta­dium ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

Aram­pant Bafana Bafana yes­ter­day re­stored their hopes of go­ing to Rus­sia, but there is still a long way to go.

Although it’s not over yet, this vic­tory will go a long way in restor­ing con­fi­dence in the team.

The South Africans held on to their slim hopes of qual­i­fy­ing for next year’s World Cup with an in­spired per­for­mance to beat Burk­ina Faso 3-1.

Just when most peo­ple had writ­ten them off, Bafana came to life and showed what they are ca­pa­ble of. It is not too late to bounce back and get their qual­i­fi­ca­tion on track again.

You dis­count them at your own peril as they seem to do well un­der pres­sure, when the chips are down and when no­body gives them a chance.

They made sure they were still in the run­ning yes­ter­day, de­spite fin­ish­ing the game with 10 men af­ter Bon­gani Zungu was sent off in the sec­ond half.

They showed de­ter­mi­na­tion and char­ac­ter from the on­set, and it did not come as a sur­prise that they lived up to their pre-match prom­ises and emerged vic­to­ri­ous.

Fol­low­ing their shock back-to-back de­feats to Cape Verde, Bafana needed to re­spond and they did it in style in front of their home sup­port­ers.

De­spite the vic­tory, Bafana are still bot­tom of Group D and will need to beat Sene­gal at home and away in their re­main­ing two games. Vic­to­ries in those games could book Bafana a place in the tour­na­ment next year.

Know­ing that only a win would keep their hopes alive, Bafana could not have asked for a bet­ter per­for­mance than the one they got when they scored in the open­ing minute. Percy Tau, who was later voted man of match, flicked Si­fiso Hlanti’s throw in. The as­sis­tant, af­ter ini­tially hav­ing doubts, flagged that the ball had crossed the goal line.

The heavy down­pour just be­fore kickoff meant Bafana caught the visi­tors while they were still cold. They un­set­tled the Stal­lions and forced them to change their game plan.

This worked to Bafana’s ad­van­tage, as they were able to set­tle quickly and dic­tate the terms, de­spite al­most al­low­ing the west Africans to come back into the game. Af­ter open­ing the scor­ing, Bafana took their feet off the pedal and in­vited the visi­tors to come at them as they de­fended deeply in their own half.

How­ever, they were to pun­ish the Stal­lions again in the 33rd minute, when Andile Jali’s pass found Themba Zwane in a good po­si­tion to in­crease Bafana’s lead.

An­other good com­bi­na­tion play saw Sibu­siso Vi­lakazi reg­is­ter his name on the score sheet on the stroke of half-time – the visi­tors sim­ply couldn’t deal with Bafana’s pace go­ing for­ward.

But credit should go to goal­keeper Itume­leng Khune, who showed why he is the coun­try’s num­ber one. What a dif­fer­ence Khune has made to the Bafana team af­ter miss­ing the pre­vi­ous two matches.

He was in­stru­men­tal in the team’s vic­tory as he not only kept the score re­spectable af­ter con­ced­ing just a sin­gle goal, but also con­trib­uted two as­sists to Bafana’s goals.

His vi­sion and quick think­ing is what Bafana missed in their games against Cape Verde. Firstly, his pin­point pass found Jali in a good po­si­tion to lay the ball to the rush­ing Zwane to score Bafana’s sec­ond goal.

Se­condly, his long goal kick lo­cated Tau alone in the other half. All the young lion had to do was give the ball to Vi­lakazi to in­crease the goal tally.

Although he was later beaten by Alain Traoré’s free kick in the dy­ing min­utes, he had al­ready done the hard work of sav­ing the team.

If Bafana pro­duce the same kind of per­for­mance against Sene­gal next month, they could ac­tu­ally be on their way to Rus­sia.

PHOTO: BACKPAGEPIX

MY MAN Sibu­siso Vi­lakazi is em­braced by Percy Tau af­ter he scored a goal dur­ing their soc­cer World Cup qual­i­fier against Burk­ina Faso at Soc­cer City in Jo­han­nes­burg yes­ter­day. Bafana emerged vic­to­ri­ous, beat­ing Burk­ina Faso 3-1 and restor­ing their chances of qual­i­fy­ing for next year’s spec­ta­cle

PHOTO:THEMBA MAKOFANE

TUS­SLE Percy Tau (right) tries to dis­pos­sess Burk­ina Faso’s Bakary Koné dur­ing their World Cup qual­i­fier at the FNB Sta­dium yes­ter­day

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