Bafana climbed to the first position in the Group A log with a 2-0 win over Central African Republic at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday night
Central African Republic looked for an early goal in the opening stages of the game and were quicker to push forward, taking the first shot at goal inside the first five minutes, as Bafana were trying to find their feet.
However, the home side absorb the pressure and started knocking the ball around as they wanted to penetrate they physical CAR defence. Reneilwe Letsholonyane won possession just outside the box and found Tokelo Rantie who shot across the poles with his weaker foot in the 7th minute of the game.
The home side should have taken the lead in the 11th minute, but Rantie lacked composure from Dean Furman’s cross after some impressive display from Bafana.
Bafana continued to threaten the opposition’s goals, and Thabo Matlaba should given the host a lead in the 17th minute when he connected with Letsholonyane’s cross but he failed to hit the target with his header.
Foxi Kethevoama looked to beat Itumeleng Khune with a long range shot in the 20th minute, but the Bafana skipper dived to his left to deny CAR their opening goal. The home side dominated possession inside the visitors’ half with Furman, May Mahlangu and Letsholonyane keeping the ball in the middle of the park.
Bafana deservedly took the lead in the 34th minute, through the boot of Thabo Matlaba who beat CAR keeper Geoffrey Lembet with a magnificent strike from distance. Bafana then lost Furman due to injury towards the end of the first half and he was replaced by Kagisho Dikgacoi, as they held onto their lead going into the halftime.
The second half started with pace, and the visitors were searching for an equalizer and forced Bafana to mistakes. They were then awarded with a free-kick in the 50th minute, and Khune did brilliantly to block Joshua Balamandji’s strike.
CAR thought they have taken the lead a few minutes later, but the assistant referee on the far side correctly raised his flag after substitute Vivien Mabide used his hand to beat Khune from a corner.
The visitors never gave up and won an indirect free-kick inside the Bafana box, but Balamandji couldn’t keep his effort down.
Mahlangu went close to doubling the lead in the 63rd minute, when his low shot was blocked by CAR keeper Lembet and off the crossbar for Bafana’s corner.
Bafana caught the visitors off-guard in the 70th minute, and Siphiwe Tshabalala played a pass behind CAR defence to pick Bernard Parker who made no mistake with only Lembet to beat.
Eloge Enza-Yamisi struck the ball inside the box with only 10 minutes remaining, but Khune parried for a corner, as Bafana defence was caught out of position.
Bafana should have easily scored their third in the 87th minute when Parker beat CAR defenders and passed the ball to Mahlangu but the midfielder shot straight to Lembet. Khune continued to produce brilliant saves as CAR continued to try the luck from distance. Matlaba found himself in the visitors’ box and did everything right to beat defenders, but he was let down by his finishing.
Tshabala should have scored for the host after a great cross from Parker, but he failed to connect with the ball as the game ended 2-0 in favour of Bafana Bafana.