Bafana head to quarters
28 January 2013 | NJABULO NGIDI
The 2-2 draw Bafana Bafana picked up at the Moses Mabhida Stadium last night ensured that they finish the group stages with five points and on top to set up a clash with Group B runners up here – likely to be either Mali or the Democratic Republic of Congo, in a city where they have only tasted defeat once in the 21-years Bafana Bafana have returned to international football.
It’s a city where Sangweni also spent six years in the colours of Golden Arrows. That familiarity helped him net his second goal of the tournament with a strike that would have made any striker proud. It certainly made millions of South African proud. Backed by a spirited Durban crowd Bafana Bafana came from behind twice with a performance that wasn’t flashy but showed enough grit and determination to win over the section of the country which hadn’t been completely won over by the inspirational win over Angola.
Morocco showed intent even before the ball was kicked with coach Rachid Taoussi making six changes from the starting XI that produced a drab showing against Cape Verde in the 1-1 draw while Gordon Igesund fielded an unchanged team from that which beat Angola.
It was a reflection of where the two teams found themselves at, with Bafana Bafana needing even a draw to qualify for the knockout stages while the Lions of Atlas needed nothing less than a draw.
It was two of the five unchanged players, however, who combined to give the Lions of Atlas the lead 10 minutes into the match when El Adoua Issam headed them into the front from a Barrada Abdelaziz corner. A mix up between Bongani Khumalo and Sangweni didn’t help Bafana Bafana’s cause with the defence split often by Barrada’s passes.
May Mahlangu returned the favour – after Tokelo Rantie spliced open the stubborn Moroccan defence – to send Mahlangu clear just outside the box to strike a stunning curler and put Bafana Bafana equal.
It brought the stadium to its feet but Hafid Abdelilah came on from the bench and stunned the crowd to silence when he scored seven minutes from full time.
With a first defeat in the tournament looming defender Sangweni pushed forward, beating two defenders before he calmly slotted home the equaliser.
It gave Igesund and the team something they had wanted in the city that has been very kind to them in the knockout stages.
The win washed away some of the embarrassment the national team has caused.
The team is 90 minutes away from realising the target set by Safa to reach the semifinals but there is also some distance between them and becoming a force with glimpses of being able to come close to that with a solid fighting spirit.
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