The Sunday News
Bafana Bafana claimed back-to-back wins in Group G after defeating Ethiopia 3-1 yesterday in their Fifa World Cup qualifier.
Bafana made three changes from the late win over Ghana, as Terrence Mashego, Tshegofatso Mabasa and Vincent Pule were brought to the fore but Pule got injured in the warm-up and his place was taken by Thabiso Kutumela.
Hugo Broos’ charges were on the front foot in the early exchanges and Siyanda Xulu came close to giving them the lead in the ninth minute with a powerful header that missed just over the top corner from a cross by Teboho Mokoena.
Ethiopia were getting into the game midway through the first stanza, as Surafel Dagnachew came close to breaking the deadlock in the 26th minute with a dipping strike from outside the box that was tipped over the bar by goalkeeper Ronwen Williams.
Broos was forced to make a change 10 minutes before the half-time break, as Mabasa succumbed to injury and he was replaced by Victor Letsoalo.
The Walia Ibex were finding openings in the closing phase of the first stanza and Williams kept Bafana in the game with two saves in a one-on-one situations to deny Abubeker Nasser twice in a space of two minutes.
Bafana broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time fortuitously, as shot-stopper Fasil Gebremichael spilled Mokoena’s free-kick into his own net at the near post.
Getaneh Kebede levelled matters for Webetiu Abate’s men in the 67th minute with a powerful free-kick from the edge of the box that looped over the wall and found the top corner.
However, Mothobi Mvala restored the lead for Bafana four minutes later with a close-range strike inside the box after pouncing on a flicked header from a long thrown in.
Broos made a double change in the last 12 minutes, Evidence Makgopa replaced Kutumela upfront and Yusuf Maart came on for Ethan Brooks in midfield, both for fresh legs.
Makgopa was unlucky not to make it 3-1 for South Africa just after coming on with a glancing header at the near post that came off the frame of goal.
Makgopa did get rewarded in stoppage time by lobbing Gebremichael after a counter-attack, as South Africa cemented top spot in the group. – Kickoff.