After a cagey 90 minutes of football in Durban, South Africa narrowly edged minnows Sao Tome ePrincipe by two goals to nil.
Bafana Bafana will be relieved to have grinded the three points in what was a must win game on match day three of the AFCON 2021 qualification campaign.
The game started slowly before the hosts got the first opportunity of the day with Themba Zwane breaking through on the right, but only for his cross to be headed over the bar by Lebogang Manyama in the 5th minute of the game.
Four minutes later Hamirriz Soares hit the side netting after a beautiful cross from the right. A dull first half ended with both sides failing to register a goal on target from all the attempts made.
Straight from kick-off in the second half Molefi Ntseki’s charges came out more organized and pressed for the opener. It did not take long before South Africa took the lead as Percy Tau converted from the spot 54 minutes into the game.
Tau was fouled by the opposition goalkeeper Nilson Taty.
Ntseki brought in Glasgow Rangers midfielder Bongani Zungu who provided more stability into the game and South Africa started to dominate. Minutes later a header from Zwane nearly put South Africa ahead, but he missed the target.
After 71 minutes Sao Tome had no shots on goal while South Africa only had 2 shots on target from their 9 shots on goal. Montpellier winger Keagan Dolly nearly scored the second for Bafana Bafana, but Taty was on hand again to deny him the goal.
Bafana were now throwing in numbers forward and Mosa Lebusa was denied again by the Sao Tome goalkeeper after 71 minutes.
South Africa eventually extended their lead after 89 minutes as substitute Zungu doubled the lead with a towering header inside the box after a sweet delivery by Keagan Dolly.
The tie ended 2-0 in favour of the hosts and Bafana now move to second spot in group C, three points behind leaders Ghana. The second game between the two nations will be played at the Nelson Mandela Stadium on Monday afternoon (15H00).
By Prince Sobayeni