Unconvincing, but finally Bafana have a grin on their faces at Afcon after beating Namibia

South Africa's players celebrate their goal during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Group D football match between Bafana Bafana and Namibia at the Al Salam Stadium in the Egyptian capital Cairo on June 28, 2019.
South Africa's players celebrate their goal during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Group D football match between Bafana Bafana and Namibia at the Al Salam Stadium in the Egyptian capital Cairo on June 28, 2019.
Image: JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

Bafana Bafana were unconvincing, even quite sloppy, but they finally were able to leave Al Salam Stadium with a grin on their faces after a first win at an Africa Cup of Nations since 2013, 1-0 against Namibia on Friday night, and three points on the board.

To have viewed such a mistake-ridden match-up directly after the breathtaking power and pace of Morocco beating Ivory Coast 1-0 probably added to the sense that South Africa lacked clarity in their play.

But, after much effort, but not as nearly as much direction, they got the goal from Bongani Zungu's 68th-minute header.

And, having had something to celebrate, who knows - perhaps now Bafana will settle. Perhaps now they can find some form of stride. They might need it.

Three points may not be enough, even with the four best third-placed finishers from six groups reaching the last-16.

Bafana face Hervé Renard's 2018 World Cup qualifiers Morocco - at times awe-inspiring dominating Ivory Coast - on Monday at this stadium (kickoff 6pm), and may need a draw to make sure. It is not impossible.

Perhaps now, the confidence from a win - and Bafana finally did finally noticeably find confidence on the ball after scoring - can spur the start of better things. And SA do always seem to perform better against the big teams.

Bafana coach Stuart Baxter surprised with his goalkeeper again, bringing in Darren Keet after Ronwen Wiliams's heroics in the opening 1-0 defeat against Ivory Coast in searing heat here on Monday.

The coach made four changes, one enforced, Hlompho Kekana replacing injured Dean Furman in midfield.

Zungu replaced Kamohelo Mokotjo in the middle, and Sibusiso Vilakazi came in for Lebohang Maboe in the frontline.

The temperature was far more comfortable for football in the 10pm kickoff, though still a muggy 29 degrees Celsius at not far from midnight.

The first half from South Africa was poor. Bafana needed to get the ball on the ground, and move it with pace.

Utilise their superior player power to pull spoiling, defensive Namibia apart. Instead the build-ups were slow and overly-intricate.

Fortunately Namibia's attack was even more weak - and even then they had some situations.

Sibusiso Vilakazi's touches were the most promising for SA in the opening 45 minutes. Early on he let the ball run under his foot to Themba Zwane, took the return pass and shaped a shot wide.

Namibia winger Deon Hotto winger put the ball round Thamsanqa Mkhize and skewed wide.

Lebo Mothiba lifted a shot over. From Sifiso Hlanti's cross Themba Zwane headed a save from goalkeeper Loydt Kazapuwa. Vilakazi's pass form the centre circle put Mothiba through, blasting wide.

Bafana's shape improved in the second half, though cohesion was still hard to come by. Just before the hour Zwane played Tau in, who tripped over the ball.

Namibia should have scored when Keet spilled Riaan Hanamub's cross to Hotto, who struck, finding Buhle Mkhwanazi on the line to clear. At the other end, from Tau's corner, Zungu was left unmarked and buried a header.

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