10-man Bafana Bafana were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw with Zambia in the first leg of their Chan qualifier at the Buffalo City Stadium on Saturday afternoon, writes Dylan Appolis.
Gift Motupa opened the scoring for the hosts, while Mario Booysen doubled their lead in the second half before Martin Phiri reduced the deficit to one goal.
However, Tercious Malepe received a red card late before Zambia levelled matters, courtesy of a late strike by Justin Shonga.
Chipolopolo looked more threatening in the opening exchanges, while Bafana had a relatively slow start to the encounter.
Motupa had a chance to hand his side the lead when he drilled his free kick towards goal, but his powerful effort failed to beat the Zambian shot-stopper between the sticks.
Baxter’s side eventually broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute after Motupa steered the ball into the back of the net from close range to make it 1-0.
The home side went into the halftime interval with a one-goal lead over Chipolopolo.
Bafana started the second half the same way they did the first. However, they doubled their lead in the 51st minute when Booysen latched on to a corner from Dumisani Zuma before finding the net.
Chipolopolo then pulled a goal back eight minutes later as substitute Phiri beat Bafana goalkeeper Bruce Bvuma to head the ball home.
The home side were reduced to 10 men when Malepe was sent off, after picking up his second bookable offence of the match.
In the closing minutes of the match, Zambia eventually found the equalising goal after Augustine Mulenga’s volleyed effort found the net from the edge of the area. The match ended in a 2-2 draw.