Hlongwane seals famous win for new-look Bafana

SA go top group after overcoming Ghana

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Bongokuhle Hlongwane of South Africa celebrates scoring a goal during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between South Africa and Ghana at FNB Stadium on September 06, 2021 in Johannesburg.
Bongokuhle Hlongwane of South Africa celebrates scoring a goal during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between South Africa and Ghana at FNB Stadium on September 06, 2021 in Johannesburg.
Image: Lefty Shivambu

In a match where he was simply impressive, netting the match’s only goal to propel Bafana Bafana to a crucial win over Ghana in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers at FNB Stadium last night was the icing on the cake for 21-year-old Bongokuhle Hlongwane.

The victory put Bafana top of Group G with four points, after the goalless in the first match against Zimbabwe on Friday. The table could change depending on the result of today’s game between Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, who lost their opening match 1-0 to Ghana at the weekend. 

Broos made an unthinkable call when he brought in defensive-minded duo of Njabulo Ngcobo and Njabulo Blom for Percy Tau and Mothobi Mvala later on when the game was deadlocked at 0-0.

Surprisingly, these substitutions did wonders as Hlongwane’s goal came from a Blom cross to Teboho Mokoena, who teed-up the Maritzburg United fledging ace to net the winner in the 83rd minute.

Hlongwane and Ethan Brooks started in the berths that were occupied by Luther Singh and Gift Links in the goalless draw away to Zimbabwe in the World Cup qualifiers opener last Friday.

Bafana coach Hugo Broos persistent with his bizarre decision to play natural right-back Nyiko Mobbie at left-back, leaving traditional left-back Sibusiso Mabiliso on the bench. To his credit, Mobbie hardly put his foot wrong throughout the match.

Ghana were compelled to soldier on without seven key players after their European clubs recalled them as their consider SA a Covid-19 epicentre.

Crystal Palace pair of Jeffrey Schlupp and Jordan Ayew alongside Rennes’ Kamaldeen Sulemana headline Ghana absentees. The trio had started in their 1-0 victory over Ethiopia in what was their Group G opener at home last week.

Tackles and physical duels were prevalent in the first stanza. Bafana’s central defenders Siyanda Xulu and Rushine De Reuck did a sterling job to keep Ghana skipper Andre Ayew, making sure they arrive first on the ball in most cases.

Hlongwane was SA’s best player in the first half, utilising his agility and skill to penetrate through the left flank. Bafana thought they’d broken the deadlock when Percy Tau’s brilliant header found the back of the net later on the stanza only for Zambian the linesman on the right wing to rule it offside. Replays showed Tau was a few inches onside.

SA started the second period impressively. Inside the first five minutes of the half, Evidence Makgopa nearly benefited from a glaring error by Ghana keeper Richard Ofori.

Ofori, who’s Orlando Pirates No 1, miss-kicked the ball but Makgopa couldn’t keep his composure as his rushed effort from close range went wide. Ofori would substituted for Lawrence Ati-Zingi after picking up an injury in the 77th minute.

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