The AFCON host defied the pressure placed on it by fans and media alike and was able to secure a win over the Palancas Negras with a fluid and dominant display.
South Africa scored its first two goals of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, which sealed a vital 2-0 win against Angola in Durban on Wednesday evening.
A first half volley from central defender Siyabonga Sagweni put the home side into the lead and substitute Lehlohonolo Majoro scored the second which gave the AFCON host three crucial points in Group A.
South Africa made five changes to the side which started against Cape Verde, with Gordon Igesund focusing on providing the promise of attacking football, giving starts to the likes of Tokelo Rantie, Tsepo Masilela, Katlelgo Mphela and May Mahlangu. Dean Furman was also handed a chance to stabilize the midfield with his accurate passing and consistent tackling.
Angola, which also failed to score in its opening game, was able to start rising star Djalma Campos on the bench and once more rested its hopes on the scoring form of Manucho and the link-up play provided by Geraldo in the midfield.
Played in a tense, pulsating atmosphere at the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium the clash began with Angola creating an early chance as Mateus burst through the midfield and fired a strike in from range, which went just wide.
Dean Furman’s impact was certainly felt in the opening minutes, as the midfielder showed his attacking class with some slick passes and glimpses of the vision he possesses. The home side benefited from his presence as it piled the pressure on a nervy-looking Angolan defense.
The combination play between Phala, Mphela and Rantie mesmerized Angola at times, but the young South African striker’s finishing touch abandoned him on two occasions.
Sangweni, normally plying his trade in the central defensive position for Bafana Bafana, showed his teammates how to score a goal with an impeccable volley in the 30th minute as he latched onto a looping ball and deposited it into the bottom right corner of the net, after making a telling run into the box.
Angola looked to hit back immediately as an accurate cross provided by Geraldo found Manucho at the near post where his header had to be palmed out for a corner by Ithumeleng Khune. But the South Africans were not deterred as they continued to enhance their play with pace and intent to find a second goal.
Bafana Bafana went into the break with a vital lead, while Angola would have looked to improve its potency in the final third.
The home side made an early substitution in the second half, bringing on Reneilwe Letsolhoyane for Mahlangu and midfield general Djalma Campos came on for Angola, in order to steady a faltering ship in the middle of the park.
Mateus was threatening once more as Angola began to display more confidence in its play, as he set up Manucho with a low horizontal ball from the right flank, but the striker could only drive an effort straight into Khune’s grateful arms.
Furman almost doubled Bafana Bafana’s lead with a clever low drive which Lama had to get a finger to in order to stop it from sneaking past him at his near post.
An attack by Angola seemed destined for a goal, but South Africa was able to counter with prowess, as Majoro kept calm at the near post with some mazy running and a low strike which beat Lama and sent South Africa into a 2-0 lead.
With less than half-an-hour to play South Africa decided to consolidate the lead and soak up Angola’s continued pressure. The tactic worked and the home side was able to hang on for a vital win, which should energize the home fans and the tournament itself.
South Africa now has four points in the group, and faces Morocco in the final first round game. Angola is on a single point, and will have to beat Cape Verde to attempt to progress to the quarterfinal.