John 15 v 13 Senzo Robert Meyiwa – is what was written on Darren Keet’s gloves as he kept goal for Bafana Bafana in the penultimate match of the Group A AFCON 2015 qualifier in front of a packed Moses Mabida Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The match was dead logged for most of the first half, with glimpses of some enterprising football from both sides. But it was not until the 37th min when Manyisa released Rantie to the by-line, who cut it back to the penalty spot finding Serero who guided the ball into the Sudanese goal for his first Bafana goal in seventeen caps.
Thulani Serero capped off his Man of the Match performance with an assist to Tokelo Rantie whose skilful run dissected the Sudan defence with pace, as he made space to place the ball in the top left corner past the reach of the goalkeeper to double Bafana Bafana’s lead. Twenty four minutes later (75th min), Salah Ibrahim of Sudan took a fine finish to score a volley thus stopping a magnificent run of more than five hundred minutes of clean sheets in a qualification campaign for South Africa. From then on it was wave after wave of Sudan’s attacks as they sought to find the equalizer to no avail.
South Africa’s 2-1 win over Sudan marked a historic milestone as it drew to an end by confirming Bafana Bafana’s first AFCON qualification since 2008. At the last stages of the game, coach Shakes Mashaba took the opportunity to make what was an already epoch-making victory, extra special. With his 86th min substitution of Thulani Serero, the Amsterdam based midfielder was afforded his congratulatory applause from the 33 000 supporters who braved the rain. While Reneilwe Letsholonyane ran on to be inducted into an exclusive group of South African players as he received his 50th Bafana Bafana cap.
Slain Bafana Bafana Goalkeeper and Captain Senzo Meyiwa’s father Sam Meyiwa expressed his excitement and gratitude at the team’s ability to finally fulfil his son’s dream of qualifying to the AFCON 2015. A visibly excited SAFA President Danny Jordaan’s likened the last four minutes of optional time at the 1997 World Cup qualifier match and encouraged the team to go to Nigeria to confirm their AFCON finalist’s credentials with a win over the African Champions. Winning captain Dean Furman reiterated the president’s sentiments when he said “we are going to Nigeria for a win.”
South Africa will play the embattled Nigeria away in their final AFCON qualifier’s match on Wednesday the 19th of November. This would be a must win match for the Super Eagles if they are to stand any chance to qualify for the CAF Orange Africa Cup of Nations which has now been confirmed to be organised in Equatorial Guinea from the 17th of January 2014.