The former Mamelodi Sundowns teammates inspired Ntseki’s side to an important win which saw the team join Ghana at the top of the Group C table
South Africa needed two late goals to secure a 4-2 victory over Sao Tome and Principe in the 2022 Afcon qualifier at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Monday afternoon.
Joazhifel Soares and Harramiz Soares netted Falcons and True Parrots Team’s first two goals in their Group C campaign, but Themba Zwane and Percy Tau each grabbed a brace to hand Bafana Bafana the victory.
Bafana were expected to record a routine win and complete a double over Sao Tome and Principe having defeated the Island country 2-0 in their first-ever meeting on Friday.
Coach Molefi Ntseki made two changes to the team which faced Sao Tome in Durban with Bongani Zungu and Lyle Lakay replacing Kamohelo Mokotjo and Innocent Maela in the starting line-up.
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Meanwhile, Sao Tome were officially the home side and they were looking to end their stay in South Africa with a shock victory over the 1996 Afcon champions.
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Coach Adriano Eusebio kept his faith in Harramiz Soares and Luis Leal despite the two experienced strikers having failed to score during the team’s Group C campaign.
Sao Tome took a surprise lead just 12 minutes into the match after the South Africa defence was caught ball watching and they were punished by Joazhifel Soares.
The 29-year-old midfielder headed home Jardel Nazare’s cross to make it 1-0 to Sao Tome, but South Africa then took control of the match as they searched for the equalizing goal.
Lebogang Manyama looked the likeliest Bafana player to score, but he could not take his chances as he dragged his shot wide of the target, before placing his effort from a free-kick just over the crossbar.
Ntseki’s charges were combining well in midfield with Themba Zwane operating as playmaker just in front of central midfielders Bongani Zungu and Dean Furman.
Parity was restored when Zungu’s pass found Furman and the England-based midfielder set-up Zwane, who finished off a beautiful team goal to make it 1-1 six minutes before half-time.
The momentum was Bafana, but the Falcons and True Parrots Team managed to contain the visitors and the score was 1-1 at the interval.
South Africa piled more pressure on the hosts after the restart with Manyama beating Sao Tome goalkeeper Aldair D’Almeida, but the crossbar came to the home side’s rescue.
Percy Tau’s effort was then cleared off the goal-line after some good work by Bafana’s livewire Manyama, before D’Almeida denied Zungu with a good save.
However, Tau was not to be denied with 20 minutes left as the 26-year-old forward dribbled past a few Sao Tome defenders and fired past D’Almeida to make it 2-1 to South Africa.
The goal did not demoralize Sao Tome as they pushed forward and they managed to level matters when Harramiz scored to make it 2-2 in the 75th minute after the away side had failed to deal with a cross which was played into the box.
However, Ntseki’s side ran riot in the closing stages of the match with former Mamelodi Sundowns teammates Zwane and Tau grabbing two late goals to save Bafana from an embarrassing draw against the 182nd-ranked minnows.
Zwane beat D’Almeida for the second time to make it 3-2 after being set-up by substitute Kermit Erasmus in the 87th minute and a minute later, Tau grabbed his own brace to seal a 4-2 win to Bafana.
The victory saw South Africa go level on points with Group C leaders Ghana on the standings, but the Black Stars are on top on head-to-head record, while Sao Tome remained fourth on the table.
The next round of the qualifiers will take place in March 2021 with Bafana hosting Ghana, while Sao Tome are scheduled to play host to Sudan.