Lebogang Phiri of South Africa and Elyas Samawal of Sudan during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers match between South Africa and Sudan at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg, November 17 2019. Picture: LEFTY SHIVAMBU/GALLO IMAGES
Lebogang Phiri of South Africa and Elyas Samawal of Sudan during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers match between South Africa and Sudan at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg, November 17 2019. Picture: LEFTY SHIVAMBU/GALLO IMAGES

Bafana Bafana got their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying campaign back on track with a lacklustre 1-0 win over modest Sudan at Orlando Stadium on Sunday.

Coach Molefi Ntseki’s charges went into this game under pressure after losing 2-0 to Ghana in their opening qualifying match away from home a few days ago‚ but they got the three crucial points thanks to a first-half goal by France-based attacker Lebogang Phiri.

Phiri‚ who plays at Guingamp in the French Ligue 2‚ profited from this encounter as he walked away with the man of the match award and scored the winner with a thunderous shot from close range on the stroke of halftime.

Bafana are now tied on three points with Sudan and Ghana.

But Ghana’s Blacks Stars might go to the top of Group C with six points if they beat minnows São Tomé and Príncipe away from home on Monday.

Bafana will have to wait until August 2020 to improve their position on the table when they host São Tomé and Príncipe in the third round of a qualifying programme that is sandwiched between World Cup qualifiers in March.

Though Bafana got all three points on offer in Soweto‚ they made heavy weather of the win and failed to overpower an average Sudan side that is 128th on the Fifa rankings.

Bafana were first to threaten but missed a good opportunity when Thapelo Morena’s shot went wide.

The home side’s earliest chance came as a result of a crisp team attacking move that saw deft touches from Phiri‚ Thulani Serero and Kamohelo Mokotjo carve open the Sudan defence.

The early chance inspired Bafana as two minutes later Phiri made a telling cross into the box‚ but Serero’s close-range shot was parried to safety by alert Ali Abdalla Aboeshren in goal for the visitors.

Bafana continued to press and after 15 minutes Serero’s shot from outside the box went over the crossbar.

Sudan also had notable moments largely orchestrated by their big attacking central midfielder Sharaf Ali Abdelrahman.

But their impressive build-ups were undone at crucial moments and they seemed to run out of ideas within the Bafana danger zone.

In the second half, Bafana coach Ntseki made changes as  promised with Lebogang Manyama‚ Bradley Grobler and Kermit Erasmus coming on for Phiri‚ Serero and Mothiba.

But the trio had little effect.