Bafana Bafana gave the 2013 Orange Africa Cup of Nations the lift it was desperately in need of when the tournament hosts deservedly beat Angola 2-0 in a Group A clash played at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Wednesday evening.
Big tournaments of the nature of Africa’s premier football competition need the home teams to do well. After the first round of Group a matches, supporters of South Africa were a nervous bunch going into the clash with the Sable Antelopes, especially as the Angolans had looked a touch better than Morocco in their opening goalless draw, but by the end of the game most of the questions and doubts about the South African side were forgotten.
Coach Gordon Igesund had made five changes from the team that started the opening match against Cape Verde, and not one of the new men let him down as South Africa delivered a far more rounded and effective performance.
Dean Furman’s inclusion was a masterstroke. He played in front of the back four, brought stability to the midfield, and his fine positional play led to him picking up plenty of loose balls and put him in position to make tackles.
The match began with the crowd still filing in. The 17:00 start meant many people didn’t get away from work early enough to see the kick off, but the South African goals, scored in the 30th and 61st minutes ensured the home supporters were in good cheer and by the end of the contest they were in hearty voice.
In the 30th minute, Phala was fouled by Dani Massunguna on the right. The Platinum Stars’ man popped up and quickly took the free kick, passing it towards Mphela in the box. It was too high for the striker and too high for Lunguinha as well, who managed only to knock it high and just behind him.
Sangweni, meanwhile, had made a run into the box as two Angolan defenders stood ball watching. He met the ball on the volley with his left foot and fired across Lama into the opposite corner to give South Africa a 1-0 lead.
In the 58th minute, Igesund introduced Kaizer Chiefs’ striker Lehlohonolo Majoro, the leading goal scorer in the Premier Soccer League with his Bafana Bafana team-mate Bernard Parker. Igesund was soon rewarded.
Angola put South Africa under pressure when they created a two-on-two situation, but after that attack was defused Letsholonyane picked out Majoro with a pinpoint long pass. The striker took the ball deep into the Angolan box, cut back out to create an angle, and then beat Lama through his legs to double South Africa’s advantage and give the home fans room to breathe and to really enjoy the game.
At full time it was Bafana Bafana who had won by 2 – 0. The team circled the field to thank the crowd and the fans responded with loud cheers.