The South Africa national team looked to revive their 2018 Fifa World Cup hopes when they hosted Burkina Faso in Johannesburg. The clash was a must-win for Bafana Bafana, who found themselves in a precarious situation with qualification hanging in the balance following back-to-back defeats to Cape Verde as well as Fifa’s decision to replay the fixture between Bafana and Senegal hampering their campaign.
Ahead of the clash, an under-fire Stuart Baxter, named a strong attacking line-up. The 64-year-old gave the foreign based midfield trio of Bongani Zungu, Kamohelo Mokotjo and Andile Jali a start, while the absence of defenders Eric Mathoho and Thulani Hlatshwayo saw Baxter give the SuperSport pair of Morgan Gould and Clayton Daniels a starting berth in front of a sparse crowd at the FNB Stadium.
Baxter’s men got off to the best possible start as Tau’s flick was adjudged to have crossed the line with under a minute played in the encounter. Bafana were looking confident and playing with a sense of swagger which excited the small crowd in attendance.
Nonetheless, despite Bafana’s comfortable start they began to sit back and invited the Burkinabe to lay siege on their goal. With 10 minutes on the clock, the Burkinabe began to come into the game. Prejuce Nakoulma did well to turn inside the box, but his shot was deflected wide of Itumeleng Khune’s goal.
With the half progressing the encounter became a much more tentative affair as both sides were guilty of turning over possession frequently and squandering the final pass. This prompted the Stallions coach to bring on Aristide Bance as they looked to go direct.
However, it was the home side who doubled their advantage in the 33rd minute. Zwane registered his first goal in a Bafana jersey as he broke through the offside trap and calmly executed his effort past a hapless Herve Koffi.
The goal put Bafana on the front foot and the combination play amongst South Africa’s front three enticed the fans as they went in search of more goals. With the game entering into first half stoppage time, coach Baxter was once again jumping out of his seat as Vilakazi capped off what had been an impressive first half display with an expert finish from close range after brilliant link-up play between himself and his Mamelodi Sundowns teammate Percy Tau.
The resumption of the second half saw Bafana continue from where they left off in the first half. Zwane once again found himself on the end of a sensational counter attack, but the 28-year-old fluffed his effort from point-blanc range to the relief of the Burkinabe.
Meanwhile, at the opposite end Khune needed to be at his very best as he superbly blocked Bertrand Traore’s shot from close range. Tau was proving to be the dangerman on the day, and with just an hour played he put Vilakazi through on goal. But the former Bidvest Wits playmaker’s looping shot went agonisingly wide of Koffi’s goal.
The drama did not end there though, as Zungu was given his marching orders with just over 20 minutes remaining following an altercation with a Burkina Faso player. Despite the numerical disadvantage, Bafana continued to pressurise the West African’s goal with Vilakazi keen on registering his second goal of the night.
In a final throw of the dice, Paulo Duarte threw on Banou Diawara in an effort to find a much-needed consolation goal. But the goal would eventually come through a sensational free kick by Alain Traore which left Khune stranded. The goal made for a nervy last few minutes of the encounter, but Bafana held on to keep their 100 percent home record against Burkina Faso firmly intact.