24 March 2013

South Africa/Central African Republic: Bafana Go Top of Group a in 2014 World Cup Qualifiers

Photo: 2010 FIFA OC
Jubilent Bafana Bafana fans celebrating a goal (file photo).

A goal each by man-of-the-match Thabo Matlaba and striker Bernard Parker on either side of the half saw impressive Bafana Bafana go top of Group A after a thrilling 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Qualifier played at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday, 23 March 2013.

It was a vintage Bafana show and with a bit of clinical finishing, the scoreline could have easily doubled as the Central African Republic were put to sword by coach Gordon Igesund's marauding charges.

With Botswana and Ethiopia playing on Sunday (24 March) in Addis Ababa in the other Group A encounter, South Africa temporarily assumed top spot with 5 points, one ahead of Ethiopia.

A magnificent strike by Matlaba gave Bafana the lead in the 33rd minute, while Parker wrapped up the victory 20 minutes from time with another superb strike. And yet, with a bit of composure in front of goals, the scoreline margin could have been wider.

Bafana's victory was somewhat marred by a seemingly horrific injury to midfield workhorse Dean Furman in the 43rd minute following an aerial challenge in the box. He was heavily cut above the eye and on the nose and was replaced by Kagisho Dikgacoi.

The visitors appeared to have equalised soon after the break through Balamandji but after strong protests by the home team, the Ugandan referee reversed his decision and correctly so.

Television replays clearly showed the striker had used his hand to score the goal.

Igesund then pulled off Thuso Phala and Tokelo Rantie for Siphiwe Tshabalala and Oupa Manyisa respectively, and the two substitutes increased the tempo of the match with Tshabalala almost scoring in the dying minutes of the match after being put through by Parker.

"I was very pleased with the performance of the team. We kept a clean sheet and we did what was expected of us. Three points were crucial to keep alive our chances of going to Brazil. There is still a lot of work to be done because we are not a finished product as yet.

"I am also excited that every day we are growing as a team and there is a lot of camaraderie in the squad. The result has given us huge confidence and a good platform," said Igesund.

"After tonight's match, I am confident that we can go there and get a result. Even though it's not going to be easy, we are capable of doing well in their backyard, as long as we continue to create chances and convert them. It's unfortunate we took wrong decisions in some instances tonight, but it's something we can work on."

His words were echoed by captain Itumeleng Khune, who also had a splendid game in goals and was a close contender for the man-of-the-match award.

"We did well as a team; the boys came to the party. We really wanted this win and we are aware how much it means to the country. We scored two wonderful goals to ensure we get three points and that's what matters. We have to continue working hard and we will be well-rewarded I believe," said Khune.

With another huge crowd behind Bafana, Igesund was pleased with the support from Cape Town.

"We were vindicated for bringing the game here. There was a rugby match in the city and a football match at the same time, but both venues were packed which is great and shows this city loves sports. The vibe at the Cape Town Stadium was fantastic, the support superb. The last time we were out here we lost to Norway, but the fans still came in numbers which shows unconditional support to the team. Thank you very much Cape Town," said Igesund.

This is how they lined up:

South Africa:

Itumeleng Khune (c), Anele Ngcongca, Thabo Nthethe, Morgan Gould, Thabo Matlaba, Dean Furman (Kagisho Dikgacoi 44'), Reneilwe Letsholonyane, May Mahlangu, Thuso Phala (Siphiwe Tshabalala 57'), Tokelo Rantie (Oupa Manyisa 65'), Bernard Parker

Central African Republic:

Lembet, Youga, Keita, E. Enza-Yamissi, Lignanzi (Mabide 52'), Balamandji, Foxi, Anzite, M. Enza-Yamissi (Kassai 83'), Manga (Momi 65'), Auzingoni Zimbori

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