South African players salute the fans during the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifier match between South Africa and Ethiopia at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on October 12 2021. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/LEFTY SHIVAMBU
South African players salute the fans during the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifier match between South Africa and Ethiopia at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on October 12 2021. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/LEFTY SHIVAMBU

Bafana Bafana  significantly enhanced their chances of progressing to the final stages of the World Cup qualification with a hard fought 1-0 win over Ethiopia at FNB Stadium on Tuesday. 

As a result of this much needed win that was secured through a first half own goal by Ethiopian skipper and striker Getaneh Kebede, SA remain top of Group G with 10 points from three successive wins and a draw. 

During this qualification process, Bafana have scored five goals and conceded only once and they have their fate in their hands in their remaining matches against Zimbabwe at home and Ghana away next month. 

Bafana have a one point advantage over second-placed Ghana who managed a narrow 1-0 win over Zimbabwe in the other match in the group on Tuesday in Harare to leave this group wide open. 

Zimbabwe and Ethiopia have been eliminated from the qualifiers leaving Ghana and Bafana to battle it out for the top spot that comes with a place in the final stage of the qualifiers with the other nine group winners. 

Going into the last two qualifying matches, coach Hugo Broos will know better than anyone that they will have to leave nothing to chance by trying to beat Zimbabwe at home and travelling to West Africa to get a favourable result against Ghana. 

Bafana took the lead after 11 minutes when Kebede deflected Victor Letsoalo’s header into his own net from a corner kick by Yusuf Maart. Ethiopia nearly equalised minutes later but Kebede watched in disbelief when his shot from inside the box went agonisingly wide of the upright.

Just before the half-hour mark, Bafana missed an opportunity to increase their lead when Letsoalo missed a sitter in front of goal after he was set up by Bongokuhle Hlongwane. 

Broos started the match with four changes from the team that beat the Ethiopians 3-1 last weekend with Njabulo Ngcobo surprisingly inserted into the midfield for midfielder Mothobi Mvala and midfielder Yusuf Maart for Ethan Brooks. 

Up front, Letsoalo started in the place of Thabiso Kutumela and Evidence Makgopa was in for Tshegofatso Mabasa but the duo ended their strong shifts empty-handed. 

Goalkeeper Ronwen Williams continued to lead the team between the sticks, Siyanda Xulu and Rushine de Reuck marshalled the defence and they returned with the third clean sheet of the qualifiers.

The new midfield partnership of Ngcobo, Maart and Teboho Mokoena was impressive as they controlled things for most of the match. 

After 56 minutes, SA attacked Ethiopia with a quick counter attack that resulted with Makgopa’s goal bound attack cleared off the line by defender Suleman Hamid.

This match was the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic more than a year ago that spectators were allowed into the stadium and the nearly 2,000 fans who turned up made their voices heard.


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