||Posted - 14 Jun 2015 : 13:39:47
South Africa held by Gambia
CAF Online: 14 June 2015 07:58
South Africa’s 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying campaign got under way on Saturday night as they welcomed Gambia to the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
The Scorpions were able to come away from the match with a point after stubbornly denying Bafana Bafana any goals, leading to a goalless stalemate. The result is a disappointment for the home side, as they were expected to cruise to victory against a little known Gambian squad.
This was the first time that Bafana played against Gambia since readmission to international football in 1992, and it will be a fixture they will soon want to forget. Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba spoke during the week about his expectations concerning the Gambians ‘parking the bus’ and looking for a draw, which is exactly how the match proceeded.
The away side were determined to defend with grit, using a combination of defence and midfield to ensure that Bafana struggled to produce opportunities to score, especially in the first half. The South Africans began to come to life late in the game, creating a few decent chances, but an inexperienced attack could not capitalise.
The match was moved from the original afternoon kick off to start in the evening, due to logistical issues concerning officials arriving in the country late, and the fans who made it to the Moses Mabhida Stadium would have been disappointed to see a lifeless Bafana lack the attacking flair and opportunism that characterised Mashaba’s 2015 AFCON qualifying squad, who despatched of Nigeria in that campaign.
South Africa’s best chance of the first half fell to Ayanda Patosi, who did well to clip the upright with a long range free kick in the 19th minute. Unfortunately for the home fans, that was not a sign that better things were soon to follow, and the first half ended goalless.
The Scorpions came into the second half with the same mentality as the first, holding on to their defensive strategy as Bafana came forward, and using swift counter attacks in an attempt to get something more from their away encounter.
Patosi continued to be involved in South Africa’s attack, but a strike from him could not be converted by Thuso Phala, and yet again the Scorpians escaped unharmed. Gambia produced poor finishing on the few occasions they troubled Bafana, but the South Africans were guilty of the same lack of quality when it mattered most, with a few wasted chances falling to Thabo Matlaba, captain Anele Ngcognca and Mandla Masango.
Bafana seemed to be edging towards a winning goal towards the end, but a late curling strike from substitute Siphelele Ntshangase went agonisingly wide for Mashaba’s men, and the match ended 0-0 to the disappointment of the hosts and their supporters.
Gambia will return home pleased with a well-deserved point from their travels, while South Africa are now under pressure, having wasted a home match in their opening fixture of the qualifying campaign.
South Africa were drawn in Group M alongside Saturday's opponents Gambia, Mauritania and African giants Cameroon. The next set of AFCON qualifiers will take place in early September, with South Africa travelling to Mauritania while Gambia welcome the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon.
South Africa Lineup: Itumeleng Khune, Anele Ngcongca (c), Rivaldo Coetzee, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Thabo Matlaba;, Andile Jali, May Mahlangu, Thulani Serero (Siphelele Ntshangase 65th min); Oupa Manyisa (Masango 38th min), Ayanda Patosi, Gabuza
Gambia Lineup: Moudou Jobe (G), Abdou Jammeh (C), Sulayman Marreh, Demba Savage, Pa Modou Jagne, Modou Barrow, Omar Colley, Ebrima Sohna, Pa Amat Dibba, Sanna Nyassi, Ousman Koli