Bafana Bafana began their pursuit of a spot at the 2018 Fifa World Cup with a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Zimbabwe in an international friendly at the Orlando Stadium.
Following the disappointment from the weekend, where Bafana failed to advance any further in their bid to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Brazil, Knowledge Musona managed to pile more misery on the national team with a splendid second half strike, before Cuthbert Malajila put the game beyond doubt in the last minute of additional time, despite a superb Bernard Parker goal seconds later.
South Africa needed to win the final qualifying game to have any hope of reaching the global spectacle in 2014, which they did 4-1 against Botswana in Durban on Saturday.
But Group A leaders Ethiopia, who Bafana needed to either lose or draw against Central African Republic (CAR), were instead 2-1 victors, sealing South Africa’s fate.
An early chance sparked Zimbabwe into life as Musona blazed a promising chance high and wide of the mark inside three minutes.
New Mamelodi Sundowns signing Khama Billiat then made a strong run into the Bafana area, but couldn’t test goalkeeper Darren Keet, who was handed his debut by coach Gordon Igesund.
Just five minutes after the break, Musona finished in emphatic style, after a corner led to the Kaizer Chiefs hitman thundering a left-footed volley up and past a helpless Keet, having been allowed space and time in the Bafana area.
The Warriors could have doubled their advantage three minutes later, but Kingston Nkhata’s effort was well stopped by Keet, before Bafana skipper Bernard Parker spurned a golden opportunity to cancel out Zimbabwe’s opener.
An accurate delivery into the box found Parker, who had to lunge forward, but the Chiefs attacker — who scored a brace against Botswana over the weekend — missed the mark to the right of Washington Arubi’s goal.
Tsepo Masilela came close to scoring his first ever goal for Bafana 15 minutes from time, but his well-struck effort narrowly crept over the crossbar, before Musona threatened again five minutes later.
Keet, however, was determined to deny the striker his second of the night, as the Zimbabweans saw out the the final eight minutes with little difficulty, as Nkhata unselfishly found Malajila, who slotted home into an empty net.
With the game out of reach, Parker bagged a consolation goal less than 60 seconds later with a long-range effort from outside the area, but it would prove too little, too late for the home side.
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