South Africa responded to their opening day 2-0 loss away to Ghana with a 1-0 victory at home against Sudan as the Bafana Bafana got their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualification campaign breathing.
Lebogang Phiri got the lone goal at the stroke of halftime as the home side got their three points with a clean sheet to top the cherry. Phiri struck a superb goal with a left-footed shot into the box after Thulani Serero’s cross was deflected into his path.
The South Africans had bossed the game, limiting the Sudanese to play in their own half. As early as the first minute, Bafana had knocked on the door with Thapelo Morena’s shot from the six-yard box going just wide.
In the third minute, Serero was denied by the keeper after picking out a Phiri cross before the former came knocking once again with a shot from range that went just over.
Lebo Mothiba should have given South Africa the lead on the quarter-hour mark when he was picked out by a superb Percy Tau defense splitting pass, but the striker’s nifty touch at the edge of the six-yard box was superbly kept out by the Sudanese keeper.
Kamohelo Mokotjo had another chance in the 25th minute off another Tau delivery but his shot from inside the box flew straight to the keeper’s arms.
In the second half, Sudan came back determined to have a way back into the game and their attacking decision pushed South Africa back. They had chances to score with Atahir El Tahir striking a scorcher from distance inches over while Ramadan Agab had an effort from inside the box go wide.
Meanwhile, in Mbabane, AFCON 2019 finalists Senegal defied a storm that halted the game to thrash hosts eSwatini 4-1 and move top of Group I with a 100pc record. The game was stopped midway for a while due to a storm but continued later after the match officials gave the game a go ahead.
Having missed a 10th-minute penalty, Famara Diedhiou responded with a second-half hatrick to send Senegal’s Teranga Lions roaring. Diedhiou broke the deadlock after 59 minutes before doubling the tally in the 66th.
Just two minutes later, he claimed the match ball with a third goal to give Senegal a comfortable hold of the game in difficult conditions. Fanelo Mamba pulled one back for the hosts in the 71st minute but just two minutes later, he moved from hero to villain after being sent off.
With a one-man advantage and the game long wrapped up, Senegal were cruising but added one for comfort 13 minutes to time through Papa Ndiaye.
With the opening day 2-0 victory over Congo, the Senegalese are now comfortably riding on the road to Cameroon ahead of the third qualification match day next year.