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Bafana suffer an away defeat in searing heat

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A 10-man Bafana Bafana were put to the sword by hosts Mauritania, going down 3-1 in Saturday’s Africa Cup of Nations football encounter and leaving coach Shakes Mashaba’s charges with a mountain to climb if they are to qualify for Gabon 2017.
Going into the match on the back of a goalless draw against Gambia at home, Mashaba knew the importance of getting back to winning ways and putting qualification back on track.
But two big moments meant South Africa would find the going tough in the blazing Mauritania heat.
First, captain Itumeleng Khune gifted the hosts with an easy goal before debutant Siyabonga Zulu was given a red card soon after the start of the second half after he was adjudged to have committed a professional foul.
The hosts were the first to threaten in the very first minute but captain and keeper Khune pushed the cross to safety.
Mauritania took the lead in the fifth minute when Khune was beaten by a long range shot, after it slipped through his hands into the net. It was an early and unexpected setback for Bafana Bafana who sat back in the opening minutes.
Much as Khune’s howler was unexpected, the visitors really struggled in stifling heat and hardly conjured up any opening in the opening 45 minutes.
For most of the first half, it was the home team which looked comfortable on the ball and created a handful of gilt-edged chances.
Bafana Bafana then suffered a huge setback moments into the second half when Zulu was shown red for what the Senegalese referee deemed a professional foul, meaning South Africa had to play the entire second half with 10 men.
In the 65th minute, substitute Bongani Zungu who came in for Dean Furman, could have done better when he ballooned the ball over the bar from inside the box with only the keeper to beat.
There was a glimmer of hope in the 69th minute when Thamsanqa Gabuza headed the ball into the net when he responded ahead of two defenders to make it 1-1.
Moments later, Gabuza made a run on the right before making a telling cross on the 73rd minute but the hosts’ defence stood firm.
Despite being a man down, it was the visitors who showed great urgency and purpose but the disadvantage of a man down meant they could not pour forward and leave gaps at the back. And it had to tell when Erick Mathoho was left for dead by Babacar Bagili who slotted the ball past Khune.
It was soon 3-1 when Diakite Ismael weaved past the entire South African defence before slotting the ball past Khune.


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