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Bafana Bafana maintain top spot in Group G following close win over Ethiopia

A solid defense and youthful energy has kept South Africa top of their FIFA World Cup qualifying group, and Bafana Bafana did well to steer clear of a trap game on Tuesday in their 1-0 home victory over Ethiopia. The visiting Walias played a very good match and were more than a threat to play spoiler and steal points, but their defense on set pieces failed them early on when Getaneh Kebede’s own goal held up for the remainder of the match. Bafana Bafana are a point ahead of Ghana in Group G on ten points while Ethiopia are mathematically eliminated following the result.

The match was energetic and featured plenty of high flying action by both sides even if only a goal decided the affair. Ethiopia kept their fearless attacking approach and continued to play the ball on the ground rather than bunkering on the road. However, once again the defense and goalkeeping departments cost them and they were punished in the 11th minute. A corner kick from South Africa’s Yunus Maart saw Walias keeper Fasil Gebremichael come out and fail to get a touch on the ball. Victor Lesaolo headed the ball back across the six-yard box and Ethiopia striker Kebede fluffed his attempted clearance right into the empty net.

Yet again, Ethiopia had to play catch up due to a self-inflicted wound but caused plenty of danger for Bafana Bafana. Abubeker Nassir was especially threatening making runs on the left wing, and he created chances in the 19th and 25th minutes for Kebede to atone for his mistake, but on both occasions the Saint George hitman could not find the finish. South Africa nearly made it two before thirty minutes were up, but Letsaolo sent his finish sky high after being well set up by a Bongokuhle Hlongwane cross.

Tension started to rise for Bafana Bafana supporters as their team could not put away an Ethiopia side that is historically notorious for struggling on the road. In the 55th minute a golden opportunity came when a low cross had South Africa striker Evidence Makgopa behind the Ethiopian defense, but after lifting a shot over the advancing Gebremichael, defender Suleman Hamid did brillianty to scramble back and clear just before the ball crossed the line.

A couple of chances for the visitors in the final fifteen minutes kept the result in doubt. South Africa’s stalwart keeper, Ronwen Williams, nearly made a rare mistake when he took his time on a clearance and his kick ricocheted off Nassir and not far off the mark. After a side volley from Abed Yalew went over the bar in the 85th minute, South Africa held out for the three points and will face Zimbabwe at home next international break.

Highlights from Johannesburg are in the link below.

Highlights from FIFA TV

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