Bafana Bafana gave a remarkable comeback, scoring two goals in few minutes, to secure a memorable 2-1 victory over Botswana at Durban’s King Zwelithini Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
South Africa’s team triumph not only boosted their chances of progressing to the knock-out stage but also propelled them to the top of their group standings, with one more crucial game remaining.
In an exhilarating five-minute period, the Zebras surprised the home crowd by breaking the deadlock against the run of play. Thatayaone Kgamanyane produced a stunning finish in the 63rd minute, capitalizing on a devastating counter-attack.
Unmoved, the home side responded quickly and directly. The substitute player, Victor Letsoalo played a crucial role by winning a penalty just two minutes later, which Iqraam Rayners confidently converted, leveling the score.
With Botswana reduced to ten men due to the penalty incident, their defensive structure broke, allowing Shaun Mogaila an opportunity to seize the advantage and double the hosts’ lead.
Bafana Bafana’s stand-in head coach, Morena Ramoreboli, made several adjustments to his starting lineup, reinforcing the attacking line.
Rowan Human, Tshegofatso Mabasa, and Iqraam Rayners, who all began the previous match on the bench, were into action from the start, injecting energy into the team’s performance.
Coach Ramoreboli’s in-depth knowledge of Botswana was expected to be a crucial factor in the encounter. However, the Zebras seemed well-prepared for his tactics, matching Bafana Bafana stride for stride in the early stages of the game.
As the match reached a position, both teams recognized the potential of set-pieces to unlock scoring opportunities.
Careful planning and execution were evident as they maneuvered around these situations, creating thrilling moments and chances to seize the lead.
Finally, in the 25th minute, the home side gave a promising opportunity when Rayners initiated a swift counter-attack.
The Stellenbosch FC embarked on a quick run, carrying the ball from his own half to the edge of the Botswana box.
His curling effort towards goal was expertly palmed around the post by goalkeeper Lesenya Malapela, resulting in a corner.
As the first half progressed, Bafana Bafana gained momentum and came agonizingly close to taking the lead five minutes before the break through Tshegofatso Mabasa.
The Orlando Pirates forward found himself with a golden chance but squandered it, sending the ball over an open net and clearing the bar after the Botswana goalkeeper had parried the initial shot into his path.
Realizing that they needed to increase the tempo to break the deadlock, Bafana Bafana upped their game.
They produced an extraordinary five-minute spell during the second half, where significant events unfolded, constantly threatening whenever they had possession. In their final group match, Bafana Bafana will face Eswatini on Tuesday.