Bafana Bafana welcomed back fans with a tight 1-0 win over Ethiopia to stay top of group G in their Fifa 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign.
The South Africans came into the game off the back of a big win away in Ethiopia, but Hugo Broos made four changes to the starting lineup with Victor Letsoalo, Evidence Makgopa, Yusuf Maart and Njabulo Ngcobo coming into the side.
Welcoming back stadium fans for the first time in 18 months, the game got off to a fast start with both sides looking for an early opener.
After surviving a penalty scare, when the ball appeared to have hit Rushine De Reucks’ arm, Bafana managed to snatch the opener with 11 minutes gone. A dangerous corner kick from Maart was met at the back post by Letsoalo, whose goal-bound header was turned into his own net by Getaneh Kebede.
The visitors turned up the heat, going in search of an equaliser, as first Mesud Mohamed’s long-range strike grazed the top of Ronwen Williams’ crossbar before Kebede went close with a snapshot in the box.
Bafana, though, had the last opening in the first half as Letsoalo got on the end of a counter-attack. The striker, however, couldn’t hit target after Bongokuhle Hlongwane’s pinpoint cross.
The home side had the perfect opportunity to double their lead nine minutes after the restart, when Evidence Makgopa was slipped through on goal and, after rounding the keeper, he sent his shot towards goal. However, a heroic clearance off the line from an Ethiopian defender kept his team in it.
The away side were refusing to lie down as they proceeded to put Bafana under pressure pressing for the equaliser.
The South Africans, though, were defending well to keep their opponents at bay.
In the end, Hugo Broos’ men did enough to claim the three points and keep them top of group G with 10 points after four games.
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