The South African National Under 23 team defeated their Libyan counterparts by 4-2 in the first leg of the London 2012 Olympic Games qualifier. The match was played on Sunday, 27 March 2011 at the Sinaba Stadium in Daveyton.
The match was attended by SAFA President Kirsten Nematandani, Vice President Mandla Mazibuko and SAFA CEO Pinky Lehoko.
Following a 45-hour trip from Libya, which is in the middle of a political upheaval, the visitors couldn’t match the South Africans in every department. There has not been any matches in that country in the last three months.
“We had a very long trip coming to South Africa, and had no sleep at all. We landed in Johannesburg on Saturday (26 March 2011) and played on Sunday (27 March 2011) and I believe under the circumstances we did very well. For us this was the first half, and we are going to play the second half in two weeks time. We knew little about the South Africans and today we saw just how technically gifted they are. In the second match we will fight with everything we have. It’s not over yet, and it’s all up to us to turn the result,” said Libyan assistant coach Omar Elmaryami.
The Shakes Mashaba-led side started like a house on fire and got on the score sheet in the 22nd with a Bongani Ndulula strike. Ten minutes later Themba Zwane made it two nil.
Two more goals followed in the second half – one from Phumelele “Ace” Bhengu in the 55th minute, while Mandla Masango made it four nil in the 69th minute.\
But the hosts took their foot off the pedal and let the visitors in on the scoring act. Defender and former captain Ramahlwe Mphahlele scored an own goal two minutes later to give Libya a chance of coming back. And this nearly happened as they managed to grab the second goal in the 89th minute, but it was too little too late. The visitors will be happy with the two away goals they scored, which could work in their favour in the return leg in a fortnight.
“Libya came here with a plan, they knew they were going to lose but tried to limit the goals so they can regroup in the second leg. We should have scored many goals this afternoon but we fluffed way too many chances. They managed to score two goals which could hurt us when we travel to Libya. I am happy with the 4-2 result but we could have done even better than that. We still need to work harder, more so because half of the players who played here today might not be in the squad as the PSL resumes. However, I am also confident that we will do well when we get there,” said South African Under 23 coach Shakes Mashaba.