Bafana Bafana's 1-0 win against Zimbabwe on Thursday gave them a three-point lead in Group G of the 2022 World Cup qualifying competition, with one encounter remaining against Ghana in Cape Coast on Sunday.
This came after Ghana was held to a 1-1 draw by Ethiopia earlier in the day at Orlando Stadium, in a match that the Black Stars should have won.
To be overly harsh, one way the South Africans could have had a better Thursday would have been if they had scored more goals versus Zimbabwe.
South Africa (13 points) leads Cape Coast by three points and has a five-goal advantage. However, a 1-0 win would bring Ghana (10 points and +3) equal on points with Bafana Bafana on a +4 difference. Then the most goals scored determines the group winner, and the Black Stars (now six to SA's five) will be higher on that and advance.
Despite their three-point lead going into the last match, Bafana still needs a draw or a win in Ghana.
Nonetheless, for the time being, before the calculators come out for the final round, Hugo Broos' young Bafana are in the best position of any South African team to qualify for a World Cup in recent years.
Bafana Bafana looked at ease on the ball and relatively calm in defence in the first half, despite being stretched at times by the Zimbabweans' pace. Zimbabwe's defense was impressively pulled in opposite directions across the field to open spaces by SA.
Both sides came out moving the ball about the snooker table FNB surface to generate half-chances, with Zimbabwe's dangerous runners stretching SA, especially Nyiko Mobbie at right-back on occasion.
Ishmael Wadi, a dangerous right-wing trickery who has scored goals for JDR Stars in South Africa's GladAfrica Championship, beat Bongokuhle Hlongwane through the middle outside a box and drove a low shot wide early on.
South Africa took the lead after a delectable build-up from left to right across the face of Zimbabwe's box, where Keagan Dolly was in space to produce a technical miracle cross that found central midfielder Mokoena smartly ghosting to the far post. SuperSport United's unmarked player buried his header beyond goalkeeper Petros Mhari.
By the interval, Bafana's calm and calculated approach had justified their one-goal lead.
In the second half, most traffic flowed in the direction of SA.
Evidence Makgopa was on the move when Mobbie's ball from within his half reached him, and he nodded a save from Mhari.
Dolly curled a strike that had Mhari at full stretch on the hour, with Bafana knocking the ball in front of the Warriors area. Mobbie crossed the resulting corner, with Makgopa aiming for the top netting.
Given the goal differential scenarios that Bafana will face in Cape Coast, the performance's most apparent flaw was SA's inability to commit forward with greater urgency in the second half.
With time running out, substitute Fagrie Lakay hit the post from the edge of the box, and Hlungwane headed wide from another Mobbie cross. In the 90th minute, the Maritzburg attacker hit a powerful shot that Mhari palmed over the crossbar.
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