Bafana Bafana produced their best performance under Hugo Broos as they beat Ethiopia 3-1 to briefly open up a four point gap at the top of Group G of World Cup qualifiers.
DURBAN – Luck and clinical finishing was on the side of Bafana Bafana for a change as they emerged with a 3-1 win over Ethiopia at the Bahir Dar Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Bafana got their goal in first-half stoppage time as Teboho Mokoena directed a free-kick on target which was embarrassingly spilled by Ethiopian goalkeeper Fasil Gebremichael.
While Bafana won, Surafel Dugnachew caused all sorts of problems for their defence throughout the game and it was unsurprising that he played a role in helping Ethiopia to equalize in the 60th minute after Thabiso Kutumela tackled him.
Gateneh Kabede struck the free-kick on target which left the otherwise reliable South African goalkeeper Ronwen Williams dumbfounded.
Just five minutes later, Bafana Bafana re-took the lead. A long-range throw found itself in the path of Mothobi Mvala who punished ball-watching from the home side to finish cleanly from close range.
Substitute Evidence Makgopa put the result beyond any reasonable doubt for Bafana Bafana in second-half stoppage time as he lobbed the ball beyond Gebremichael following a through ball from Victor Letsoalo.
Bafana Bafana started on the front foot, creating a flurry of opportunities in the opening two minutes of the game. However, it was Ethiopia who arguably did create the better opportunities in the first half and the away side could have been a few goals down by half-time had it not been for some excellent goalkeeping by South Africa’s goalkeeper and captain Williams.
Ethiopia had their first opportunity in the tenth minute with a long-range effort that sailed over Williams’ goal.
Dagnachew had another chance after 15 minutes following a neat passage of interplay by Walia Ibex but also blazed over the bar.
Williams showed his leadership to make vital interventions within a short space of time. The Bafana skipper played a sweeper role, coming out of his box to clear an Ethiopia attack in the 25th minute. Just a minute later, he was forced to make a fingertip save following a cleanly struck long-range shot from Dagnachew.
Bafana had a close chance at goal just after the half-hour mark as Kutumela’s shot from outside the area was just wide.
Possession was shared between the sides in the second half. Bafana Bafana were unlucky to have not scored a third in the 80th minute as Makgopa nearly scored with his first touch of the game but instead saw his shot come off the crossbar.
The game was a physical one and while the win was not the most convincing for Bafana Bafana, they ended up doing what they needed to do to get three points and keep themselves on top of Group G.
The teams will meet in the return leg at the FNB Stadium on Tuesday.