South Africa have qualified for the U23 Africa Cup of Nations with a 5-0 aggregate victory over Zimbabwe in the final round of qualifiers on Tuesday.The South Africans re-called Siyabonga Ngezana, Kabelo Seriba, Gift Links, Sipho Mbule and Kobamelo Kodisang from Friday’s 5-0 first-leg triumph.
Left with a mammoth task to overturn the match, Zimbabwe bombed on the attack in the opening minutes and found openings through Romario Matova’s free-kick which flew wide.
Teboho Mokoena looked to increase their overall tally shortly after the first 10 minutes, but the diminutive midfielder couldn’t connect with Luther Singh’s probing delivery. The match was evenly balanced afterwards that was until the 42nd minute when Mondli Mpoto parried an accurate header from centre-back Juan Mutudza following a corner kick.
South Africa continued managing the encounter following the start of the second half, as the hosts pushed fearlessly towards the breakthrough. Prince Dube went close to the opener in the 55th minute after lining in a shot from outside the area, but South Africa’s Mpoto positioned firmly to curb the threat. David Notoane introduced South Africa’s first substitution two minutes later, as Leicester Ctiy midfielder Khanya Leshabela made way for Kamohelo Mahlatsi.
The change did little to improve their chances to open up the hosts, who struggled to open up the young South African starlets. Zimbabwe opted for more breakthroughs in the final minutes, however Matova’s wayward header was the closest the former came to unravel the South Africans. The travelling contingent in the end advanced to November’s under-23 AFCON tournament in Egypt, which serves as a qualification tool to next year’s Olympic games.