Kaizer Chiefs' Shabalala comes to Notoane's rescue as South Africa keep U23 Afcon hopes alive against Congo-Brazzaville

Mduduzi Shabalala, SA U23, December 2022Backpagepix
  • Notoane's side struggled in the first-half
  • Maseko grabbed the hosts' crucial equalizer
  • SA will now face Congo in Brazzaville

WHAT HAPPENED?: South Africa were left to rue their poor first-half performance in a game played at Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto.

The hosts dominated possession, but they struggled to create clear-cut chances with the Young Red Devils' defence looking solid and compact.

Congo took the lead a minute before half-time when Rhaemma Bissila netted with a header from close range after South Africa's defence was exposed. 

South Africa coach David Notoane introduced Mduduzi Shabalala just after on the hour-mark and the Kaizer Chiefs starlet changed the complexion of the game.

Shabalala delivered a cross which was controlled well by Thapelo Maseko who then scored to make it 1-1 in the 67th minute and ultimately, the game ended in a draw.

ALL EYES ON: Shabalala who was surprisingly named among the substitutes by Notoane.

The 19-year-old displayed his quality and ability after coming on as a substitute.

Shabalala's sharp movement and good link-up play unsettled the Congolese defence, and he grabbed an assist.

Notoane will have to hand Shabalala a starting berth in the second-leg clash as he could be key to SA's away win. 

THE BIGGER PICTURE: South Africa are on the back foot as Congo are leading on the away goals rule.

It is imperative for Notoane's side to score in Congo in order to stand a chance of winning the tie.

The winner on aggregate will qualify for the U23 Afcon finals scheduled to be hosted by Morocco between June 24 and July 8.

WHAT IS NEXT FOR SOUTH AFRICA?: Notoane's side will face Congo at Stade Alphonse Massemba-Débat in Brazzaville on Monday.