Brilliant free-kick from Teboho Mokoena seals victory for SA over the Ivory Coast
A brilliant free-kick from Teboho Mokoena sealed a 1-0 victory for South Africa over the Ivory Coast and kept them on course for a semi-final place at the 2019 Africa Under-23 Cup of Nations.
Mokoena blasted home a long-range set-piece to add to his gallery of spectacular goals and earn the side three precious points after it had looked as though it would be a frustrating evening with a number of missed chances.
Coach David Notoane’s side move to four points from their two Group B matches and victory over Nigeria on Friday will ensure a place in the Last 4 as the side hunts a top three finish at the tournament to earn a spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
A point or even a defeat may even be enough depending on what happens in the other matches in the pool.
Notoane pushed key midfielders Mokoena and Sipho Mbule‚ and forwards Lyle Foster and Luther Singh‚ straight into the action after their late arrival in the camp having missed the 0-0 draw with Zambia on Saturday.
And all were influential in the early stages as South Africa pressed for the opener‚ with Mokoena seeing his effort from the edge of the box saved by Ivory Coast goalkeeper Ira Tape.
Foster had three excellent chances in the opening half‚ first shooting wide of goal and then missing a Singh cross by inches when he seemed destined to head home.
He then created space for himself on the turn‚ but his effort fizzed just wide of goal.Notoane’s side were creating chances though and Mokoena’s inviting cross was met by Singh‚ who’s shot was again saved by Tape.
Winger Kobamelo Kodisang narrowly failed to find Foster with a low ball into the box‚ before the Cercle Brugge striker almost created another chance with a neat turn‚ though his effort was blocked.
And then came the moment of magic from Mokoena on 79 minutes.
After Singh had been brought down 35-yards from goal‚ the SuperSport midfielder crashed a free-kick into the top-corner for a contender for Goal of the Tournament.
Mokoena is no stranger to spectacular goals having netted a number for Matsatsantsa‚ but this is one that will live long in the memory.
South Africa should have had a penalty in the closing minutes when Ibrahim Sangare brought down Kodisang in the box‚ but Djibouti referee Souleiman Djama waved away the appeals in what looked a dubious decision.
The ball then somehow stayed out the Ivory Coast net when Singh’s cross was headed onto the crossbar by Kodisang‚ Keletso Makgalwa’s shot from the rebound was cleared off the line and Mokoena put the follow-up wide.