Leone Stars held Bafana Bafana to goalless draw as Niger make history
By Mohamed Fajah Barrie in Nelspruit
Bafana Bafana and Leone Stars line-up to sing their national anthems (Photo credit: Mohamed Fajah Barrie)
Leone Stars held Bafana Bafana of South Africa to a goalless draw at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit in the final weekend of the 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifier.
The other match of the group saw reigning African Champions Egypt registering their first ever victory in the qualifiers after a 3-0 victory over Niger.
But the result didn’t stop Niger from qualifying for 2012 finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea on the superior head to head rule as Sierra Leone, South Africa and Niger ended with nine points each.
Niger’s qualification is historic because it’s the first time they’ve reached the finals of the continent’s premier sporting event, the African Cup of Nations.
The Bafana-Bafana-Leone Stars match was balanced as the former dominated the first half and latter got better possession of the ball in the second half.
Deadly striker Ibrahim Teteh Bangura was unable to trouble the Bafana Bafana defence due to injury and he was substituted in the second half.
Azerbaijan based Sheriff Suma created the best chance for Leone Stars as his long range left-footed shot was flicked over the cross bar by Bafana Bafana goalie Khune Itumeleng in the 51st minute.
Captain Tshabalala Siphiwe got the closest chance for Bafana Bafana in the second half as his left-footed shot just outside the box went over the cross bar in the 61st minute and his freekick from almost the same area troubled goal Keeper Christian Caulker who punched away.
Goalie Khune Itumeleng wasted time with the conviction that a draw would have enough for them to qualify and that was why after the match they celebrated but to their disappointment they learnt later after returning to their dressing room that it was Niger who made it.
Pitso Mosimane, the Bafana Bafana coach said: “I’m confused about who have qualified from our group. I’m not feeling good,” adding: “We play to qualify and that was why I changed my game plan in the second half by bringing midfilders.
I thought with Egypt leading Niger a draw would be enough for us to qualify.”
Leone Stars Line-up (Photo credit: Mohamed Fajah Barrie)
The Leone Stars coach Lars Olof Mattsson on the other hand said: “I’m proud of my boys despite the fact that we failed qualify”.
“I think Teteh Bangura’s injury affected the team and that was why were able to create just one clear chance.
I’m pleased with the overall performance of my team and I know the future is bright.”
Bafana Bafana: Khune Itumeleng, Tshabalala Siphiwe (Captain), Gould Morgan, Gaxa Siboniso, Ngcongca Anele, Sangweni Siyabonga, Claasen Daylon (Manysisa Oupa 76’), Khuboni Thanduyise, Jali Andile, Bernard Parker (Letsholonyane Reneilwe 63’), Mphela Katlego
Subs not used: Sandilands Wayne, Jele Happy, Khumalo Bongani,Mokoena Lebohang, Majoro Lehlohonolo
Head Coach: Pitso Mosimane
Leone Stars line up: Christian Caulker, Ibrahim Kargbo (Capt), Sheriff Suma, Umaru Bangura, Khalifa Jabbie (Samuel Barlay 46’), Alfred Sankoh, Rodney Strasser, Ibrahim Teteh Bangura (Sam Obi Metzger Jr. 51-Yellow card 90+1 m)), Mohamed Bangura, Kei Ansu Kamara
Subs not used: Desmond Wellington, Abraham Mike Lewis., Alusine Kamara, Ibrahim Kalilu Fofana, Habib Sesay (GK)
Head Coach: Lars Olof Mattsson
Ref: Sylvester Kirwa (Kenya)
Asst Ref 1: Aden Marwa (Kenya
Asst Ref 2: Elias Kuloba (Kenya)
RR: Omweno Davies (Kenya)
MC: Charles Massembe
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