Bafana Bafana has been defeated by two goals to one (2-1) by Niger in a 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier played at the General Seyni Kountche Stadium in the capital Niamey on Sunday, 4 September 2011. The result leaves Niger top of the standings in Group G on nine points, with South Africa and Sierra Leone (who beat Egypt 2-1 on Saturday) tied on eight points each, but Bafana Bafana is second due to a better goal difference.
“I don’t feel good because it’s no longer in our hands. It’s the first defeat and it leaves a sour taste in the mouth. We played well but football is about goals and we were lacking in that department. There is hope though, all is not lost and we don’t want to focus on Egypt to do us a favour in the next match. I feel sorry for the boys and I will have to lift them up for the last qualifier, and I still believe we can qualify,” said Bafana Bafana head Pitso Mosimane.
Mena, as the Niger national team is known, surged into a two-goal lead thanks to strikes from Koffi Dankwa and Ouwo Maazou in the early stages of the first and second half respectively, before Bafana Bafana pulled one back through beauty by Andile Jali.
South Africa had an early chance to open the scoring, but midfielder Teko Modise saw his attempt rebound off the upright with goalkeeper Kassaly Daouda left completely helpless. Centre-back Koffi Dankwa was left unmarked at a corner kick and put the hosts one nil up with a header.
Inside the opening quarter Itumeleng Khune was called upon to make a point-blank save in his own penalty area, while defender Morgan Gould had to make a vital interception to stop Ouwo Maazou running free on goal.
As the hot temperature began cease at the end of the first half, Bafana began to dominate the match and pinned Niger back in their own half. However, the score remained 1-0 in favour of ‘Mena’ up to the half time break.
South Africa made a change early in the second half, sending on striker Lehlohonolo Majoro in place of attacking midfielder Thulani Serero, but it was Niger who made the next major impact on the game, with Maazou scoring from close range to put the home side 2-0 up just after the restart.
“The second goal was a killer, it came too early and we had not expected it. I was not worried about the first goal because at that stage we were still in control. We lost on fair goals but the officiating left much to be desired. I think we played better and deserved more from this match. These are the first two goals we have conceded in the qualifiers and right now we can’t play the blame game, we have to soldier on. It’s also good to qualify when you have worked hard for it, you savour it more. We need all the experience we can get for the next game,” said Mosimane.
Midway through the first half South Africa got on the score sheet, with a well-curled ball by Jali to make it 2-1 and give the visitors hope of a comeback.
However, Niger were able to sustain the onslaught to run out two one winners.
Stand-in captain Siphiwe Tshabalala made history by becoming the most-capped Kaizer Chiefs player with 53 caps as an Amakhosi player. He surpassed the 52 matches played by former Bafana Bafana defender Neil Tovey. Tshabalala has now played 61 times for South Africa.
Egypt has been eliminated with only two points to their name – the first time they miss out on the Afcon finals in 30 years. Egypt had to win to have any chance of reaching next year’s tournament in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. This is their third loss in five matches of the qualifiers.
The North Africans failed to qualify for the Cup of Nations - which it has won more times than any other country - for the first time since 1978. It withdrew from the 1982 tournament in Libya.
Next month in the final matches of the qualifiers, Egypt will host Niger, while Sierra Leone will travel to South Africa.
Bafana Bafana returns to South Africa on Monday, 5 September 2011
This is how they lined up:
Dauoda; Dankwa, A. Issoufou, Amadou, Lancina, Talatou, Chikoto, B. Issoufou, Maazou, N'Gounou, Djibrilla
Itumeleng Khune; Anele Ngcongca, Morgan Gould, Siyabonga Sangweni, Tsepo Masilela, Thanduyise Khuboni, Andile Jali, Teko Modise, Thulani Serero (Lehlohonolo Majoro), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Daylon Claasen), Bernard Parker (Bongani Khumalo).
Subs: Wayne Sandilands, Hlompho Kekana, Bongani Khumalo, Lehlohonolo Majoro, Daylon Claasen, Happy Jele, Siboniso Gaxa.
Amajimbos make progress
The South African Under 17 National Men’s team, Amajimbos, is back in the country after losing one nil in a friendly international match against Zambia in Lusaka. The match was played on Saturday, 3 September 2011 at the Nkoloma Stadium in the capital Lusaka.
This was their third match in a week, after defeating their counterparts from Lesotho 2-1 in another friendly international played in Maseru. They also beat a Vodacom League side by the same score line in a practice match.
Amajimbos head coach Solly Luvhengo is however satisfied with the progress made by his charges.
“I will not allow the loss in Zambia to pull our spirits down because that was the test the team required and I am glad we went through such an exercise. My boys struggled in the first 20 minutes of the match, but were able to get back into the game by absorbing the pressure from our opponents. So we need to build on these challenges we encountered during the last three matches we played recently. I am happy with the progress we have made, the boys have acquired a minimal amount of international experience, now we should stay focused in preparing for the qualifiers next year,” said Luvhengo.