The Bafana Bafana had their destiny in their hands when they travelled to face Sudan at the Al-Hilal Stadium in Omdurman, Khartoum. Having missed their biggest chance to qualify by drawing against Ghana last Thursday, they had it all to play for.
Sudan who until match day five trailed both South Africa and Ghana by three points made their intention clear by beating Sao Tome and Principe by two goals to nil. That win took them closer to qualification as they still lay third but now just a point less than the leading duo of Ghana and South Africa. Also boasted by their last qualifying match being at home, they definitely would mean no walk over for Coach Molefi Ntseki’s side.
Saifeldin Malik Bakhit and Mohammed Abdel-Rahman gave the Falcons of Jediane the needed pump in the first half with goals in the fourth and 32nd minutes respectively.
A last-ditch tackle denied talisman Percy Tau from finding the equalizer while one goal down. Thulani Hlatshwayo would soon hit the cross bar with his header as Ntseki’s side searched for the all important equalizer and lifeline.
When Mohammed Abdel-Rahman added to the Falcons of Jediane lead in the 32nd minute, South Africa knew they had a mountain to climb. They upped their game and would have halved the deficit if Siyanda Xulu did not fail to direct a Luther Singh’s corner towards goal. Percy Tau then had another chance to give them hope heading into recess only to be denied by the quality goalkeeping of Ali Eshrein from close range.
South Africa knowing they had to now produce two goals in the second half and concede no further goals came back strongly after recess. But they could not limit the attacks of the Sudanese and Williams was forced to make a fine save to deny Bakhit a second.
Eshrein was again on hand to deny the South Africans after he denied Thapelo Morena who was set up by substitute Lyle Foster. South Africa could not create meaningful opportunities heading towards the dying embers of the game.
Sudan held on to their two goal advantage to deny the Bafana Bafana a place in Cameroon when Africa’s finest footballing talents gather to compete for AFCON glory. South Africa are missing their first AFCON tournament since 2017 and their firth overall. Sudan meanwhile are making their 9th AFCON appearance with their best performance being champions in 1970 when they hosted it. It is also their first since 2012 having failed to qualify for four consecutive tournaments starting 2013.