By FOCUS REPORTER
THE South African national Under-23 Team has defeated Zimbabwe 2-0 in the first leg of the All Africa Games qualifier played at Sinaba Stadium in Daveyton on Saturday.
The home side continued with its good run of form as the victory comes just a week after beating Benin 5-1 in an Olympic Games qualifier.
South Africa won courtesy of two goals in each half by striker Bongani Ndulula to take his tally to 15 goals in 14 matches.
The first came in the 40th minute when striker Bongani Ndulula capitalised on a mistake and lack of communication between defender Timire Mamvura and his goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda.
The second was in the 79th minute, which was a well-taken with the inside of his foot to give Sibanda no chance.
Against Zimbabwe, South Africa’s head coach Shakes Mashaba had to make several changes from the team that played against Benin as some of the players were not available this time around.
“It’s not always ideal to do that but we have to keep on going. Today we did not give Zimbabwe a chance to play and forced them to make errors. But they showed they are a strong side and could be dangerous going forward. The second leg will not be easy and my boys know that. We have to be more disciplined and ensure we get an away goal very early to settle the nerves. We did well today by not giving them an away goal. We could have scored more, but there’s still some work needed in that department,” said Mashaba.
The head coach says he needs his players to qualify for the All Africa Games in September, and they have perhaps just 90 minutes to that in Zimbabwe in two weeks time.
“The winner between us and Zimbabwe will be the best in Southern Africa, and that is a good start for us because if we want to conquer the world we need to start in our region. Yes the Olympic Games are big compared to the All Africa Games, but we need to take this continental tournament seriously if we want to be taken seriously too,” added the coach.
Bafana Bafana head coach, Pitso Mosimane was one of the many spectators that filled the Sinaba Stadium. After the match he was in the dressing room to congratulate Mashaba and the players.
South Africa will travel to Zimbabwe in a fortnight for the second leg of this qualifier. The overall winner will qualify automatically for the 10th All Africa Games to be hosted by Mozambique in September.