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By Katlego Modiba

Football Journalist

Three things we learned from Bafana v Nigeria

Bafana were not lethal enough in front of goal but showed plenty of character.

Bafana Bafana wasteful in front of goal

Bafana Bafana have no one but themselves to blame for the 4-2 penalty shootout defeat to the Super Eagles. They wasted a number of good opportunities in the first half to take the lead. Percy Tau was the culprit for not being clinical when his country needed him the most. Nigeria were not the races in the opening 45 minutes but looked better after the restart. They were good value for their lead 23 minutes into the second stanza via a William Troost-Ekong penalty after Victor Osimhen was fouled by Mothobi Mvala.

Thapelo Morena’s pace and overall presence missed

Hugo Broos made one change to his line-up, Siyanda Xulu replaced Thapelo Morena who was relegated to the bench. Grant Kekana slotted in at right-back while Khuliso Mudau played in a more advanced role. It was clear Morena was missed because Bafana didn’t really get in behind Nigeria’s defense, something Morena has done well for Bafana at the tournament. If Morena is carrying a niggling injury then Broos can be forgiven but if this was a tactical change, it backfired and the Belgian shouldn’t have tempered with his starting XI that got past Morocco and Cape Verde. As much as Mudau had a good game, Morena would have offered more danger from an offensive point of view. The 71-year-old did redeem himself as his substitutions brought some spark into the game. It was Mihlali Mayambela’s pass to Percy Tau that led to the penalty which Mokoena dispatched.

Brave Bafana show character to come back from behind.

Bafana did well to get back into match after going a goal behind. Their heads didn’t drop but they kept probing and asked questions of the stingy Nigerian defense that only conceded once before the semi-final. Bafana could have stolen it after at the death after Teboho Mokoena put them level from the spot. Mudau wasted a glorious opportunity to complete the comeback on the stroke of full-time but he blasted his effort over. The changes Broos made by bringing on Zakhele Lepasa and Mihlali Mayambela yielded some positive impact. Ronwen Williams did well to also keep South Africa in the game when he denied Ademola Lookman from a one-on-one situation. In the end, penalties are a lottery and Bafana were unlucky not to make the final.

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