Jonty Mark
Football Editor
3 minute read
9 Oct 2021
5:13 pm

Bafana stun Ethiopia to grab huge boost on the road to Qatar

Jonty Mark

Ronwen Williams' brilliance in goal keeps them in it, then Mvala and Makgopa strike late.

Teboho Mokoena celebrates after scoring Bafana's first goal against Ethiopia. Picture: Kidus Yoftahe/Backpagepix.

Bafana Bafana bared their teeth in Bahir Dar on Saturday, as they shocked Ethiopia in their own backyard, Hugo Broos’ side picking up a huge three points with a 3-1 win in 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifying.

South Africa moved four points clear at the top of Group G, with Ghana taking on Zimbabwe a little later in the day. Whatever the result in that match, another win for Broos’ men against Ethiopia on Tuesday at FNB Stadium will leave them in pole position heading into the last two qualifiers next month.

Broos had targeted six points from these two matches and Bafana were helped in the first half by the brilliance of their captain and goalkeeper Ronwen Williams and a howler from his opposite number Fasil Gebremichael.

Still, Ethiopia fought back from going behind and when former Bidvest Wits front man and the home team’s captain Getaneh Kebede rifled in a brilliant free kick, it looked like Bafana might even be slipping to defeat.

Instead, Bafana came again and Mothobi Mvala got his first ever goal for his country, before substitute Evidence Makgopa made sure there were no stoppage time nerves with a superbly-taken third.

Bafana were dealt a blow just ahead of kick off as Orlando Pirates forward Vincent Pule was injured in the warm up and had to be replaced by Thabiso Kutumela.

Broos’ line up also included a debut for Cape Town City left back Terrence Mashego, with Nyiko Mobbie moving to his more familiar position on the other side of defence.

Bafana started the game very much on the front foot, making forays into the Ethiopia penalty area, and causing panic in the opposition defence, though they just about scrambled away s couple of attacks in the first few minutes.

The home side grew into the game and Surfel Dagnachew volleyed over the bar before blasting anoher effort well over, after being deftly set up by Kebede.

Bafana’s defence was then sliced open twice as young striker Abubeker Nasir burst through but on both occasion Williams denied him with fantastic one-one-one stops.

Kutumela put a shot from the edge of the box inches wide in the 32nd minute, and then did well to win Bafana a free kick on the stroke of half time. Mokoena stepped up an curled an innocuous-looking effort straight at Gebremichael. The Ethiopian ‘keeper however, inexplicably dropped the ball into his own net, literally handing Bafana the lead.

After the break, Dagnachew put another effort just wide, as Ethiopia pressed for an equaliser.

In the 66th minute, Dagnachew beat Kutumela easily and was hacked down by the Sundowns man right on the edge of the box. Kutumela was booked and Kebede stepped up and rifled a rocket into the top corner of the net.

At that stage it appeared Ethiopia had the momentum but it was Bafana who regained the lead. Broos’ side had tried a long throw from Nyiko Mobbie as a clear tactic many times in the first half to no avail. But in the 72nd minute Mobbie’s delivery was flicked across his own goal by Kebede and Mvala arrived to fire home.

Bafana should have extended their lead with ten minutes left as Makgopa planted a point-blank header against the crossbar just moments after coming on.

In stoppage time, however, Makgopa did put the seal on the win, as he burst clear of the Ethiopia defence and lifted a brilliant finish over Gebremichael.