The second matchday of the ongoing Africa Cup on Nations saw attention shift to the so-called Group of Death as four time winners Ghana took on Senegal in the earlier kickoff before Africa’s number one ranked team Algeria clashed with 1996 champions South Africa.
The Teranga Lions of Senegal had to fight from behind, Andre Ayew having put the Black Stars ahead from the penalty spot after Christian Atsu had been fouled in the box by goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul quarter way into the match. However, an equalizer from Southampton forward Mame Diouf and a last minute goal from Moussa Sow saw the Senegalese claim the three points in a 2-1 win.
That result meant there was all to play for in the second clash in the group pitting North Africans Algeria and their southern Africa counterparts South Africa. While the match was bereft of the explosive start and an early goal that underlined the previous encounter, it was highly competitive contest.
The Bafana Bafana threatened the most in the opening half but wasteful finishing and over elaboration of their play saw them waste three neat chances to score the opening goal. Dean Furman had his head buried in his hands halfway into the match after rattling the crossbar before Sibussio Vilakazi and Andile Jali were all culpable of wasting clear cut chances as the half ended barren.
Shakes Mashaba’s side would take a deserved lead 6 minutes inside the second interval, Thuso Phala finishing a delightful move that involved the troublesome Tokelo Rantie feeding Vilakazi whose backheel found Phala who finished from just outside the six-yard box.
Just two minutes later, Bafana Bafana were gifted an opportunity to extend their lead after they won a penalty. However, AFC Bournemouth’s Rantie aimed too high and hit the post in spite of sending the goalkeeper the wrong side. Mashaba’s side would create more chances but they tended to overplay when a little bit of decisiveness and willingness to shoot on goal would have bore dividends.
Thulani Hlatshwayo must have felt as the unluckiest man to grace the 30th edition of the tournament as he turned a header into the back of his own net to give the Desert Foxes a lifeline. Five minutes later, Napoli defender Faouzi Ghoulam doubled the South Africans’ pain when his left-footed strike somehow escaped the gloves of keeper Darren Keet. Two soon became three, Keet having another ‘oh boy’ moment after he allowed Islam Slimani’s tame shot to go past him with the clock reading 83 minutes.
South Africa’s loss, as unfortunate as it was, was all down to them. Time and again, they created chances but tended to go over the top when all they needed was to test the keeper. Rantie’s wild miss from the spot-kick summed up their evening. A low shot towards the far post would have made it 2-0 and perhaps allowed Mashaba to put a few more bodies at the back and see off the rest of the game as Algeria never created so many chances.
It was a bitter lesson for the 1996 Champions who now have to beat Senegal to have any chances of advancing past the group stages. Hopefully, by the time they face the increasingly impressive Teranga Lions, they would have learnt the simplest lesson in football; always take your chances.
And That's thesteifmastertake!!