Bafana Bafana took on Gambia in an Afcon 2017 qualifier on Saturday, with the side claiming a valuable away victory that keeps their slender hopes of qualification alive.
The match was the penultimate game of Group M qualifying, and Bafana – having taken just three points from their opening four fixtures – were in desperate need of a win to keep their hopes of qualification alive.
Run-away leaders Cameroon have already booked their passage following a 1-0 win over Mauritania, but Bafana can still progress as one of the best runners up provided results go their way.
Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba had come into the came expecting an open clash, and the prediction proved accurate as both sides looked to attack during the opening stages.
Keagan Dolly almost worked a chance for Bafana after 17 minutes, but his touch was poor, following a great ball over the top. Thamsanqa Gabuza then came close for Bafana just two minutes later.
The Scorpions had a chance of their own as they forced Itumeleng Khune into a save on the 20 minute mark, before trying a shot from range that went wayward six minutes later.
Bafana broke the deadlock on the half-hour mark as Dolly played in Gabuza, who took a touch before firing home. Bafana then looked to slow the game down, as Gambia struggled to garner possession. But then on 38 minutes, Bafana struck again. Once more, it was Dolly who provided for Gabuza to sweep home.
Gabuza almost grabbed his hat-trick after 44 minutes, but he was denied by the ‘keeper after racing clear.
The second-half began with another chance for Bafana as Hlompho Kekana came close from the edge of the area. Then, with 50 minutes gone, Khune was forced into a save down the other end.
With 56 minutes gone, Bafana added a third. Dolly deservingly got the goal as he fired in from outside the box. Gambia had a chance to hit back almost immediately, but were again denied by South Africa’s defence.
Gambia managed little in the way of attacking threat as a couple of free-kicks proved harmless. Then, with 80 minutes on the clock, Dolly grabbed his second goal of the night with another thunderous effort from range.
With time running out Tebogo Langerman had a chance to steal a remarkable fifth, but fluffed his effort, drawing the action to a close with the final score reading 4-0 in favour of Bafana.
Bafana’s final game of qualifying sees them take-on Mauritania at home on Sunday June 12.
Kick-off is from 16:00.