Bafana Bafana were held to a goalless draw by a revamped Congo Brazzaville side at a rain-soaked Peter Mokaba Stadium on Wednesday night.
The result delayed Bafana Bafana’s celebrations for a place in the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations scheduled for Morocco next year. A win could have guaranteed Shakes Mashaba’s side a place at Africa’s biggest football showpiece and although they remain in the driving seat, those celebrations now remain temporarily on ice.
Despite the draw, Bafana Bafana remain top of the group on eight points, one ahead of second-placed Congo. Their next game is a home fixture against Sudan.
Bafana Bafana never rose to expectations as Congo man-marked most of the key players including Thulani Serero and Tokelo Rantie. Both had to be substituted in the second half as persistent rain made structured play almost impossible.
It was Rantie who made the first foray in the ninth minute but his surge on the byline was cleared by the Congolese.
Congo seemed content on trying to disturb Bafana Bafana’s rhythm in the opening minutes and having managed to do so, fashioned some really threatening moments of their own late in the first half.
One such threatening opportunity came in the 35th minute when Congo won a corner and from the resultant kick, Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa who is turning out to be the rock for the revived side, pushed the ball out of danger off the line.
With Congo really looking competitive, Bafana Bafana hardly created meaningful opportunities in the first half and Rantie was caught offside on a number of occasions.
In the second half, with the rain still bucketing down, both teams lost possession and in the process created few meaningful chances.
However, Mandla Masango and Kermit Erasmus fashioned some good opportunities but the match was always destined to end in a goalless draw.
Once again, Andile Jali and Dean Furman’s combination was a joy to watch and late in the second half created some great opportunities.