A goalless draw between South Africa and Cameroun in Durban on Tuesday saw Bafana Bafana’s hopes of reaching the 2017 Africa Nations Cup finals in Gabon all but come to an end.
There is a very small chance that Bafana Bafana could still qualify, but it is a very tall order and you could see by the disappointment on the players’ faces that this is pretty much the end for Shakes Mashaba’s team wanting to reach the finals next year.
If the South Africans (who have 3 points) win their last two games (against Gambia and Mauritania) they will still need Mauritania to draw with Cameroun and Gambia to beat the Indomitable Lions for any chance of going to Gabon.
If that happens, Bafana would be tied on nine points with Cameroun at the top of the table and will go through on away goals in head to head with the Indomitable Lions.
What about a final roll of the dice to reach Gabon by ending as the best placed runner up across all groups? You would be clutching at straws here because there are already four second-placed teams with seven points or more at this stage of the campaign.
So how did South Africa struggle to beat a depleted Cameroun in Durban?
Bafand Bafana went close early on when debutant left back Sifiso Hlanti’s curling free kick was tipped over the bar. Soon after, Hlanti delivered a deep cross to Thulani Hlatshwayo at the far post but his header went directly into the ground and bounced over the bar, with a slight touch from the keeper taking it out for a corner.
Just before the half hour mark, Cameroun skipper Vincent Aboubakar fired a free kick way over the crossbar and a few minutes later the FC Porto star glanced a header just wide of Itumeleng Khune’s upright.
Hlanti had another crack at goal, which flew over the bar and soon after he forced the keeper to make another good save from a set piece. Midfielder Hlompho Kekana saw his long range attempt narrowly miss the target as it became clear that Bafana were not going to find a goal.
Aboubakar then came close when he chested the ball on the run, turned and volleyed at goal but could not find the target. Then Mandla Masango flashed his volley wide of goal before substitute Prince Nxumalo almost stole a winner on debut in the final minute. But his shot at goal from close range was blocked brilliantly by the Cameroun defence.
Egypt 1-0 Nigeria
Sudan 1-1 Ivory Coast
Angola 0-2 Congo DR
S’Africa 0-0 Cameroun
Gambia 0-0 Mauritania
Liberia 5-0 Djibouti
Uganda 0-0 B’Faso
Namibia 1-3 Burundi
Togo 0-0 Tunisia
Ethiopia 3-3 Algeria
Niger 1-2 Senegal
Malawi 1-2 Guinea