By FOCUS REPORTER
NATIONAL under-23 side is through to the second round of the All Africa Games qualifiers after defeating Angola 2-1in a second leg first round match played at the Sinaba Stadium in Daveyton on Sunday, 20 February 2011. Striker Phumelele Ace Bhengu scored in each half against the determined Angolans to help South Africa to a 6-2 aggregate victory following their 4-1 win in the first leg played in Angola.
The visitors were the better of the two teams in the first half as they were trying to reduce the deficit from the first leg, but they found the home side resolute. With nothing to lose, Angola threw everything at South Africa and were unfortunate not to find the back of the net. Instead, it was the hosts who scored through a spectacular overhead kick that gave Adilson Cruz no chance in the Angola goals in the 35th minute. With his back to the goals and a defender behind him, Bhengu chest-trapped the ball and let rip and the ball flew into the top left corner of the net.
The goal was also appreciated by the thousands who came to watch the Under 23 in action.
On the stroke of halftime, Angola equalised from the penalty spot. Captain Noises Jose scored the goal after the South African defence was adjudged to have fouled an opponent.
The goal seemed to spur the visitors on, but Bhengu was not done yet. He grabbed his second of the day in the 63rd minute to give the home side a two one victory.
Coach Shakes Mashaba made three changes in the second half bringing on Letsie Koapeng, Vivian Motloung and Mongezi Hadebe for Riaan Eugene, Bhengu and Christopher Flandorp respectively.
“It was a much better performance than the one we had in Angola. During the match I could see some of the things we worked on at training, which is a good sign, but what was discouraging was that at times the players were doing their own thing. I was especially worried about the showboating, which was just to unnecessary and I will speak to my boys about it. Also when we lose the ball we don’t organise ourselves in good time, so that is something that I need to work on in the next camp. But I am happy we managed a win because I could see the Angolans were determined and wanted a win at all costs, and at times we found ourselves defending more than we attacked. It’s a good start and we have proceeded into the next round so that is the important thing,” said an excited Mashaba.
His captain of the day, Doctor Mampuru was equally ecstatic but gave credit to the visitors.
“I think we did well as it was tough out there. We came here knowing it was not going to be an easy game because Angola were chasing the game and were going to try for a goal throughout. They were stubborn to break down, but when we got the first goal that’s when we started to relax and play our normal game. I must commend Ace for a beautiful goal, it was just sheer top class, not the kind that you see in every match. At the end of the day it was a good all-round performance from my teammates, but I must also give credit to Angola for pushing us all the way. The crowd was also lovely and gave us courage to go on even when things were not working out for us, thanks to them,” said the defender.
South Africa’s next match is an Olympic Games qualifier against Libya next month. All Africa Games qualifiers will resume in April, with SA taking on Malawi.