South African coach Gordon Igesund's men were too good for Botswana at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday afternoon. However SA's improvement came too late for BrazilThanks to Ethiopia's clumsiness of fielding a suspended player against Botswana, this sixth match day World Cup qualifier began with an interesting edge as both South Africa and Botswana had a mathematical chance of progressing to the playoff stage. The field at the Moses Mabhida was in top condition and the sun was out with the Durban crowd buzzing in anticipation.
South Africa started positively with possession and the Botswana defense had to stand strong and stopped Tokelo Rantie from bolstering into their box inside the second minute. Mompati Thuma, in particular proved important.
Dikgacoi was played clean through with just the keeper Dambe to beat in the 8th minute. Dambe came forward but Dikgacoi smacked it straight at him. The Crystal Palace man was fortunate to get a second attempt with the rebound but disappointingly hit it straight at the keeper with power. In situations like this the central midfielder should pass it sideways to his teammate for a tap-in.
The crowd couldn't believe the missed opportunity and that seemed to slow the hosts down for the next seven minutes. Botswana's Mogorosi surged forward but his optimistic shot sailed over the bar.
In the 16th minute Kermit Erasmus was brought down, earning Bafana a free kick just outside the box. Tshabalala curled it over the wall, a fine attempt but swirling just over the bar.
In the 21st minute Rantie played a one-two with Parker, but the Kaizer Chiefs forward shot it over the bar too. Botswana's brave keeper Dambe stopped a cross from Matlaba in the 24th minute, colliding into Erasmus and requiring two minutes to recover from the knock to his face.
In the 27th minute Tshabalala's corner was headed by Parker as a flick-on to the far post where Orlando Pirates' new striker Erasmus headed into the roof of the net. This was Erasmus' first international goal and a vital one at that.
Bafana almost drove the nail in when Rantie squared the ball in the box to Parker. The Chiefs man had a good sighter of the goal, striking it well but Dambe did better to save. Spirits were then up on the bench with the news that Central African Republic were 1-0 up against Ethiopia. Botswana could still hurt South Africa with a rare venture forward, but they hadn't created anything of worth.
In the 39th minute Tshabalala should have passed forward to unmarked teammates, but chose to strike a tame shot from distance. Then Furman was surprisingly played into the box but he tried to flick it fancily, only to lose possession altogether. He tried to make amends soon after that, with Tshabalala passing his corner to him. It was far outside the box and the Botswana defenders closed the angle. Furman could only sky it into the stands.
Who would have though Furman would get another chance in succession, and it came in injury time with a cutting through-ball. The Doncaster Rovers man side footed it into the net off the post. It's Furman's first goal and perhaps thanks to the license given to him to push forward from coach Gordon Igesund.
Bafana started the second half with a spring in their step as their World Cup hopes were very much alive. Rantie outpaced the Botswana defenders but opposition keeper Dambe did well to close him down. The game was then disrupted by some sloppy possession and heavy tackles. Attention was diverted to the other game, in Brazzaville where Ethiopia equalised before the hour.
Igesund brought on Bongani Zungu for Erasmus. The substitute's influence was already felt in the 61st minute as Tshabalala's pace allowed him to catch up to Zungu's ball down wide to the right. The home side pressed forward to latch onto any return pass, but the Botswana defense blocked it out.
When Andile Jali came in for Dikgacoi in the 67th minute, it underlined Igesund's confidence in the quality of his replacements. However the home sides right side of defense was left exposed, and the resultant cross caught Bafana unprepared. Ramatlhakwana pounced to pull one back for Botswana in the 73rd minute.
It was nervous times as the South Africans were wondering about the game in Brazzaville where Ethiopia had gone 2-1 ahead. In the 81st minute Rantie tried to twist his way through, but was hacked down for a setpiece close to the box. Parker beautifully placed the free kick into the net, easing the nerves from the previous 10 minutes.
Just a minute after Klate replaced Tshabalala, he was brought down in the box. Parker slotted it home, somewhat making up for the freak own goal he scored againist Ethiopia. Though effectively, it was that own goal that knocked Bafana Bafana out of the running for Brazil 2014.