South Africa were eliminated from the Rwanda CHAN 2016 tournament despite displaying some amazing heroics in the Angolan capital of Luanda in the second leg on Saturday.
This CHAN team will look back at the 2-0 defeat in the first leg at the Rand Stadium last Saturday as the encounter that they let the qualification slip out of their hands.
On a mild Saturday afternoon in this coastal city, South Africa matched Angola pound for pound and with a bit of luck and better experience, could easily have stolen the game away from the hosts by a wider margin.
But they had to settle for a good 2-1 win and bow out 3-2 on aggregate. But they will still hold their heads high considering most players hardly have game time at their respective clubs, and to come to Angola and beat the hosts in their backyard and something both coach Ephraim Mashaba and his assistant Thabo Senong will be proud of.
As expected, it was the visitors that applied immediate pressure looking for the early goal that would put them back into the match but the Angolans managed to defend the corner kicks that rained their goal area.
With Percy Tau and Hendrik Ekstein having a telepathic understanding, South Africa threw everything into the game creating a host of chances but some resolute defending denied Mashaba’s charges the early minutes breakthrough.
Following wave after wave of attacks, Lyle Lakay collected a loose ball in the midfield, charged towards the goal area and his tantalising cross was pushed past own keeper by Fabricio to give the visitors early advantage on the 28th min.
The goal seemed to have been the tonic the South Africans needed as they poured forward in large numbers looking for the equaliser.
But that in some way proved their undoing as they were caught on a swift counter attack while they had gone upfront in numbers searching for the equaliser.
Gerson was given ample time in the box to turn and fire past Wayne Sandilands as Mashaba’s charges gave away a very soft goal that restored Angola’s 2-goal advantage.
The second half started the way as the first half with South Africa very much in charge but Lakay and Ndulula both failed to take advantage of the hesitant Angolan defence.
Captain Wandisile Letlabika then decided to take matters into his own hands rifling a stinging shot that the host’s keeper did well to parry back into play as the match remained 1-1.
But the brave South Africans were not going to be denied the winner as Lakay’s ferocious free-kick hit the upright and into the net to give the visitors a 2-1 lead.
South Africa then literally camped in the Angolan goal area looking for that goal that could have put them on the plane to Rwanda but time was not on their side.
Angola: Mario; Isaac, Silva, Fabricio, Gomito II, Gerson, Fredy, Papel, Miguel, Dário, Mateus
SA starting 11: 1. Wayne Sandilands (GK), 4. Siyanda Zwane, 5. Wandisile Letlabika (C), 13. Levy Mokgothu, 14. Thabo September, 7. Lyle Lakay, 8. Mlungisi Mbunjane, 6. Michael Morton, 12. Hendrick Pule Ekstein, 9. Bongani Ndulula, 10. Percy Tau.
Subs: Nkosingiphile Gumede, Motjeka Madisha, Tebogo Moerane, Amigo Memela, Dumisane Zuma, Thabo Qalinge, Vincent Pule