Bafana Bafana qualified for the 2019 African Cup of Nations tournament with a 2-1 victory over Libya, courtesy of a sensational brace from Percy Tau. The stadium was packed to the rafters with a sell-out crowd for the qualifying decider taking place in Tunisia. Bafana Bafana who had endured a somewhat an unpredictable qualification walked into their final game in Group E with their mission rather clear-cut. They knew anything but a defeat would see the them advance to AFCON, while Libya needed nothing but a win to surpass Bafana and book their ticket to Egypt.
The home-side came out gun blazing, looking for goals early, Darren Keet, who was given preference to start ahead of Ronwen Williams as Stuart Baxter looked to fill the void left by an injured Itumeleng Khune was the busier of the two goal-keepers. Keet justified his selection in the line-up by putting up a brilliant save after a loose ball found its way to Libyan attacker Ali Elmusrati. Bafana looked content to defend most of the first half. With the half time whistle looming, the away side were showing some bright signs as Zwane’s effort was deflected past Libyan keeper Muhammad Nashnoush.
Tau broke the deadlock after 50 minutes with a stunning shot into the top of the net. Thereafter, Libyan supporters started throwing items like water bottles onto the field of play. South Africa’s celebrations were short lived as the referee awarded a dubious penalty to the home-side. Officiating in African games has always been an issue especially when North and West African teams play against SADC/Southern African countries. They always have to dig twice as hard. Libya equalized with that Benali penalty in the 65th but South Africa restored their lead three minutes later when Tau fired another scintillating effort that left the Libyan keeper with no chance. Tau’s effort silenced the vocal home fans and sealed Bafana’s spot in the AFCON tournament. It has been a while since we have had a striker as intelligent and skillful as Percy Tau. Ever calm and calculative, Percy when to dribble, when to shoot from distance, when to run and how to conserve energy.
South Africa were the last of the 24 teams to qualify for the expanded Cup of Nations, with the finals to be held in Egypt from June 21st to July 19th. Other Southern African teams that qualified for the tournament are Zimbabwe, Namibia, Madagascar, Tanzania and DRC.