Bafana Bafana failed to open their 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) campaign in commanding fashion in group C as they were battered 3-1 by Africa’s number-one ranked, Algeria, in Mongomo stadium, on Monday night.
Despite a bright start by Bafana Bafana, a series of poor defensive errors, a missed penalty and poor goalkeeping cost South Africa three points.
The Desert Foxes goal-stopper, Rais Mbolhi, made a superb save with a slight touch from a powerful shot taken out of the box by Bafana skipper, Dean Furman.
Just before half-time, Mbolhi made two more brilliant saves to deny Bafana Bafana a goal. He snatched the ball from Sibusiso Vilakazi in the box before he blocked Andile Jali’s shot with his leg.
However, in the second half, he was unable to stop Thuso Phala from putting Bafana on the lead in the 50th minute after receiving a back-heel pass from Tokelo Rantie.
Two minutes later, as Vilakazi continued to create more problems for the Algerians, Aissa Mandi brought him down in the box and the referee did not hesitate to award South Africa a penalty.
However, Rantie wasted a great opportunity to double Bafana’s lead when he bloated a penalty over the crossbar.
In the 66th minute, Bafana’s defender Thulani Hlatshwayo brought back the North African confidence when he headed a cross into his own net.
Faouzi Ghoulam received a pass in the box, but Oupa Manyisa failed to stop him from pulling a powerful shot from a close range which proved very difficult for Bafana goalkeeper Daren Keet to stop it.
With only seven minutes from time, a poor goalkeeping error by Keet saw Islam Slimani shooting under his body and into the net.
Following their come-back 3-1 victory, the Desert Foxes are now on top of group C with one goal difference as Senegal beat Ghana 2-1 in an earlier match played at the same venue.
However, all is not lost for South Africa. If they want to proceed to the next stage of the tournament they are expected to beat their toughest opponents Senegal and Ghana on Friday, 23 January and on Tuesday, 27 January.
Winning an opening match has not always guaranteed automatic passage into the next stage as proven in the 2004 Tunisia Afcon, when they beat Benin 2-nil, but still failed to progress to knock-out stages.