Cape Town – South Africa and Nigeria have played to a 1-1 draw at FNB Stadium, a result that sees the visitors qualify for the 2019 African Cup of Nations and Bafana’s hopes of qualification firmly in their own hands.
In a match played in intense heat, the home side were off to the worst possible start with Nigeria taking the lead in the 10th minute after a cross by Samuel Kalu was deflected into the South African net by Bafana defender, Buhle Mkhwanazi to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
South Africa created an excellent chance to hit back of the net in the 18th minute after Thamsanqa Mkhize worked a cross into the box but Lebo Mothiba could not get on the end of it.
An equaliser did come in the 26th minute with Percy Tau cutting through the Nigerian defence before finding Mothiba who slid the ball home to make the score 1-1.
In the 35th minute, Nigeria should have regained the lead after Kelechi Iheanacho was through on goal with only Itumeleng Khune to beat. A poor touch, however, allowed his effort to be blocked.
No further goalmouth action followed and the teams went into the break locked at 1-1.
Nigeria had the first real chance of the second half in the 53rd minute when the ball fell to Ahmed Musa but he could only managed to drag his shot wide of the target.
Stuart Baxter made the first change of the match in the 60th minute as Thembinkosi Lorch replaced Thulani Serero.
Tau continued to be the focal point for the South African attack and the diminutive midfielder combined well with Themba Zwane on a number of occasions but unfortunately for Bafana, no real goal threat resulted from their good play.
Kenneth Omeruo then had an excellent chance for Nigeria to take the lead but could only head wide when hitting the target seemed an easier option.
Nigeria thought they had stolen the game in the 82nd minute with Musa sliding the ball home but according to the linesman, from an offside position.
Thamsanqa Mkhize had an brillant chance to steal the match for South Africa but a poor connection with an attempted header saw the ball go wide of the post.
No further goal attempts in the remaining minutes mean the game ended 1-1 with Nigeria qualifying for 2019 AFCON tournament and South Africa’s hopes firmly in their own hands.
All South Africa need to do is secure a draw in their final match against Libya.
This, however, will be a tough ask as the match is an away fixture.