South Africa’s national soccer team, Bafana Bafana, blew their chances of guaranteeing a place for themselves in the Afcon Soccer finals in Morocco in 2015 when they allowed themselves to be held to a goalless draw by a determined Congo Brazzaville at South Africa’s Peter Mokaba Stadium on Wednesday night amid allegations from the opposition coach of being abused by local coach, Shakes Mashaba.
In a game where the visitors were always on the back foot, Mashaba’s men failed to create opportunities, resulting in a draw that allows their opponents to fight another day. In the opening stages of the game, Bafana Bafana’s Tokelo Rantie was allowed to thread through the Congo defence for several minutes but the much needed goal was ever elusive. The Congo defence were up to the task set for them by their mentor and kept the home team’s marauding attackers at bay. Delvin Ndinga of the visitors almost silenced the rain drenched crowd at the Polokwane venue in the 35th minute when his team managed to wrestle the hosts onto the backfoot for the first time. The set piece that ensued from that attack had Senzo Meyiwa summon all his reserves of experience and expertise to make that brilliant save.
Despite the rain and lighting that entertained the crowd at the interval, South Africa continued to illustrate how unrelenting they were in attack as, after the break, they sent Rantie upfront to continue to make a nuisance of himself to the Congo defence. In one of their rare counter attacks, the visitors, through Ferebory Dore, were denied a goal and a chance to, again, lead the group when their goal was disallowed for offside.
This attack raised the ire of the hosts who returned to camp in their visitors’ goal area and were almost rewarded with a goal had it not been for Masango who, in the 77th minute, fluffed his and his country’s chance of an immediate qualification to Africa’s soccer showcase when he saw his effort just miss the far post. This was immediately followed by another miss, this time through hitting the side netting when substitute, Kermit Erasmus was attempting to finish off a beautiful combination between himself, Andile Jali and Sibusiso Vilakazi. The rain soaked crowd was later sent into a frenzy by a Masango goal only to discover minutes later that the provider of the pass, Oupa Manyisa had been in an offside position.
At the post match interview, the Congo Brazzaville coach, Claude Le Roy complained that the local coach, Ephraim Shakes Mashaba had made an obscene gesture at him immediately after the match. He stated that their photographer had captured it on camera and he would be lodging a complaint with CAF and FIFA. However, Mashaba denied the allegation and challenged his opposite number to bring out the photos.
South Africa now lead Group A with eight points while Congo follow closely behind with seven as both teams prepare to face Sudan and Nigeria respectively in return fixtures.
After being stunned 1-0 in Saturday’s match, the Super Eagles put their campaign back on track when they thumped the Sudanese 3-1 in the return fixture in Abuja. They are now third with four points while Sudan are languishing at the bottom with three points.