SA U23 advance in Olympic

AIDED by an opposing goalkeeper with 10 butterfingers, South Africa’s Under-23 team turned the tables on a benign Benin in a 5-1 victory at the Rand Stadium on Sunday afternoon for a 6-4 aggregate Olympic Games qualifier win.

South Africa had slumped to a shock 3-1 defeat against the former Kingdom of Dahomey in the first leg and appeared in serious danger of not progressing further to join the eight African teams from which the continent’s three or four sides for next year’s Olympics in England will be decided.

But four first-half goals against what was an error-infested combination in which goalkeeper Eric Tabilal was largely responsible for three of South Africa’s scoring efforts in the opening 45 minutes enabled the home side to hold out ultimately for what had at one stage appeared a comfortable success.

A degree of anxiety crept into the proceedings after Benin had at one stage reduced their overall aggregate deficit to a single goal through Abdel Suanon in the closing stages.

But when Orlando Pirates’ Bongani Ndulala scored his second and his team’s fifth goal in the 84th minute, with the Benin defence at sixes-and-sevens, it was all over bar the shouting from a 5 000 crowd who took advantage of the free attendance.

On a sunny winter afternoon in Johannesburg in which the recent frosty conditions were considerably diluted, Phumelele Bhengu opened the score for South Africa with a gifted goal following two earlier dangerous scoring efforts.

AmaZulu’s Thamsanga Sangweni scored the goal of the game with a sensational 30 metre shot in the 24th minute. Mandla Masango made the score 3-0 in the 30th minute and Ndulula followed this up with the first of his goals shortly before the interval.

Despite a slackening off for a period in the second half during which Wits University’s Darren Keet made two breathtaking saves, coach Shakes Mashaba’s more professional and resolute team were generally the more accomplished combination.-Supersport.com

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