Bottle-flying start for Bafana
Goal-scorer Jali risks fans’ ire in historic World Cup qualifier victory in Angola
Angola . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(1) 1 Gerson 2 South Africa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(2) 3 Rantie 14 Gabuza 20 Jali 82 pen A HISTORIC victory that has essentially rendered this World Cup qualifying tie a no contest before Tuesday’s second leg in Durban was sullied by Andile Jali’s sending off that preempted missile throwing on to the field – one of which hit coach Shakes Mashaba on the head as he left the pitch.
On the occasion of what was the final event to mark Angola’s 40 years of independence, Bafana Bafana spoilt the celebrations with an emphatic victory that should see them progress to the final round of qualifiers for Russia 2018.
Bafana also became only the second country to beat Angola in their own backyard in World Cup qualifiers – yesterday’s win ended a run of 25 matches stretching back to the qualifying matches for Italia ’90.
Until Jali’s conversion of a penalty that should never really have been, as Buatu looked to have cleared the ball only for referee Bamlak Tessema to rule he had hacked Tokelo Rantie, the match stood on a knife edge as the hosts searched for an equaliser.
Angola’s invincibility in home World Cup qualifiers looked to remain in tact after they took the lead barely 90 seconds into the match, a Gerson shot from the edge of the box beating Jackson Mabokgwane hands down.
The visitors should have scored first, Bafana gifted possession by a poor defensive pass in the Angolan half. Thamsanqa Gabuza and Rantie combined well only to end up trying to walk the ball into the net and failing.
With the partisan Angolan fans cheering the home team on with drum and song, it appeared as though the disaster of Mauritania was about to be revisited for South Africa.
But instead of dropping their heads as they did in that embarrassing African Cup of Nations defeat, Bafana worked their way into the game.
They restored parity just before the quarter-hour mark via a sweetly- struck Rantie shot from inside the box after a good pass from Thabo Matlaba.
The second goal was swift in materialising, Bafana going ahead just six minutes after equalising. And just like the first, this one was also the product of some good wing play – this time from the right.
Mandla Masango threaded a fantastic grass- cutting pass into the path of Gabuza, who simply had to direct the ball past the advancing Dominique into the far post.
At 2-1 up away from home so early in the game, Bafana looked set for progression into the World Cup qualifiers proper such was their dominance and Angola’s poor showing.
But Eric Mathoho wasted a glorious chance to render the tie over as a contest when he headed a corner kick straight at the Angola keeper.
It made for a fascinating second half, and Angola returned from the break guns blazing and piled on the pressure for so much of the secod period that it was actually a testament to Bafana’s defensive strength that they held on.
But when the visitors pushed forward they looked dangerous and should have been given a penalty when an Angolan defender attempting a slide clearance used his hands to push the ball out, but the referee gave a corner instead,
The Ethiopian whistleman appeared to be making up for this error of judgement when he gave Bafana a penalty for what seemed a fair tackle. Jali converted but he clearly didn’t read the mood of the fans, as he celebrated right in front of the local crowd with his finger on his mouth.
They responded by pelting him with bottles of water and the referee booked him for a second time, ensuring a sending off for the midfielder.
Fortunately for Jali, he had delivered the goal that surely must have turned the tie in the favour of Mashaba’s men ahead of Tuesday’s clash.
ANDILE JALI: Hero and villian