Bafana fail to make it to Rus­sia

Sene­gal eas­ily pro­tect two-goal lead

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - SPORT - Tiyani wa ka Mabasa

BAFANA Bafana’s 2018 World Cup dream has gone up in smoke af­ter they lost 2-0 to Sene­gal at the Peter Mok­aba Sta­dium last night. First-half goals by Di­afra Sakho and an own goal by Tham­sanqa Mkhize put paid to South Africa’s hopes of a fourth World Cup ap­pear­ance, while the West Africans en­sured they win Group D and sub­se­quent qual­i­fi­ca­tion to the global show­piece with the win.

This was just the cul­mi­na­tion of a chaotic week for Bafana.

They ar­rived in Polok­wane with­out their Euro­pean-based play­ers who were de­layed in fly­ing in and then came the rev­e­la­tion that in­flu­en­tial play­maker Thu­lani Serero wasn’t com­ing af­ter all be­cause he wasn’t guar­an­teed a run.

There were some pos­i­tives, though, prior to the clash with goal­keeper Itume­leng Khune de­clared fit to play af­ter a face mask was se­cured for him, so he got the nod to start, which would have pleased the na­tion.

But even with him, it was al­ways go­ing to be a big ask for Bafana, who needed to beat the Lions of Teranga home and away to qual­ify.

The 40-000-strong crowd was si­lenced just 11 min­utes in with Sakho run­ning onto a through ball from Sa­dio Mane to fire home for the opener.

Bafana picked them­selves up and took the game to the vis­i­tors, but were let down by poor fin­ish­ing.

Themba Zwane had a chance in the 25th minute, but fired straight at goal­keeper Khadim Ndi­aye and Percy Tau failed to con­vert from the re­bound.

Le­bo­gang Manyama had an even bet­ter chance min­utes later, but watched in dis­be­lief as his shot hit the cross­bar and went back into play, much to the fans’ dis­ap­point­ment. It went from bad to worse for the hosts when Sene­gal got their sec­ond in the 38th minute when the ball de­flected off Mkhize and into his own net.

Sene­gal were back in the driv­ing seat and by half­time, Bafana were kept at bay by one of Africa’s top sides.

The sec­ond half saw the hosts try to take the game to the West Africans, but it was al­ways go­ing to be dif­fi­cult against a side com­fort­able to sit back and pro­tect their lead.

Sibu­siso Vi­lakazi had a chance to re­duce the deficit just be­fore the hour mark with a low shot from close range, but goal­keeper Ndi­aye made an easy save.

From there, Sene­gal con­tin­ued to keep it tight and Bafana, in turn, just couldn’t break down the de­fence.

In the end, this was just not meant to be for Bafana.

The two coun­tries will meet again in Dakar on Tues­day, but that will be a dead rub­ber.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: PHILIP MAETA/GALLO IM­AGES

EYE­ING FOR CON­TROL: Mbaye Niang and Tham­sanqa Mkhize dur­ing the 2018 Fifa World Cup qual­i­fier match be­tween South Africa and Sene­gal at the Peter Mok­aba Sta­dium last night in Polok­wane

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