The South Africa national team will have to wait until the final day of qualifying when they take on Libya to book their place in next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.
This is after the team played a 1-1 draw against the Super Eagles of Nigeria at the FNB stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon.
A first half Lebo Mothiba strike cancelled out Buhle Mkhwanazi’s own goal to give Bafana Bafana a chance of qualifying.
After a win and a draw over Seychelles during the previous international break, Bafana found themselves just a point adrift of leaders Nigeria heading into the penultimate game in Group E.
This meant that victory over the away side would be enough for Bafana to guarantee their place in next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.
GOAL! Percy Tau with the most deceitful pass you’ll see today. Disgusting. Mothiba sticks a knife into the hearts of all Nigerians everywhere. Score is level. Bafana Bafana 1 – 1 Nigeria #FSLive pic.twitter.com/JAaFgPNr13
— McABDULLAHI (@Super_Feera) November 17, 2018
However, with injuries and suspension having hampered both teams, the two coaches were left to tinker with their squad selection.
Nigeria had the early chance as they looked to catch South Africa on the break but they finally got the opener when Mkhwanazi inadvertently turned Samuel Kalu’s ball into his net after the Nigerian winger made some good play on the right wing.
That was the first goal conceded by Bafana in qualifying.
At the other end, Bafana came out firing and almost had an immediate response, only for the Nigeria defender to make a fantastic last-ditch tackle to ensure that Tau would not get his shot away with only the keeper to beat.
— CAF (@CAF_Online) November 17, 2018
Bafana were playing a rather high line and the pace of Musa left the backline exposed during the opening stages. This saw Khune needing to be alert and quick off the mark to avert danger.
Baxter’s men though, who bagged a total of eight goals in qualifying ahead of the game, did show some good touches in an around the Nigeria box but struggled to trouble the Nigerian keeper.
That was until the 26th minute where a moment of brilliance saw Tau set up Mothiba for his second goal of the campaign. The Belgium-based star, who is on the books of English Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion, sliced past the Nigerian defence before unselfishly putting the ball on a plate for the 22-year-old.
Both sides then had different scoring oppurtunity but could not convert – with a late controversy taking place in the closing stages when Ahmed Musa’s goal was ruled out for offside despite replays showing he was onside.
South Africa would travel to Libya hoping to avoid defeat as one point is enough to see them qualify for the 2019 AFCON while Nigeria is expected to grab all three points against Seychelles and confirm their place as group leaders.