Goals from Thulani Serero and Tokelo Rantie booked South Africa’s place in next year’s African Cup of Nations, which will be hosted in Equatorial Guinea.
Bafana Bafana successfully navigated a nervy final 15 minutes to secure a 2-1 win over Sudan in an 2015 African Cup of Nations Qualifier at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday.
Bafana Bafana head coach Shakes Mashaba made three changes to the side with the most notable change coming in goal as Darren Keet filled the gloves of the late Senzo Meyiwa, while Anele Ngcongca and Oupa Manyisa were recalled to the starting XI.
For Sudan, Mohamed Abdallah recalled Kareka and Nazar Hamid while Elmoiz Mahgoub retained his place in goal in what was a relatively attacking line-up.
The game got off to a slow start with the first shot in anger coming from the visitors, Omer Kosti hitting his half-volley straight at Keet, who got behind the ball and made an easy save.
Tokelo Rantie’s pace caused the Sudanese defence some problems in the early exchange, but his indecisiveness in front of goal was yet again proving to be his downfall.
Sudan looked sure to score on the half-hour mark as Nazar Nassir broke through on goal, but Sibusiso Khumalo hauled him in and made a superb last ditch tackle to deny the lanky midfielder.
Bafana Bafana continued to find space down the flanks, but Ngcongca and Khumalo’s crossing left a lot to be desired.
The home side finally found the back of the net in the 38th minute through Serero. Andile Jali unleashed Rantie who broke down the left flank before cutting the ball back to Serero who finished with aplomb.
Ndulula should’ve doubled Bafana Bafana’s lead in the 42nd minute. Khumalo burst forward before producing a superb low cross, but the AmaZulu striker failed to hit the target with the goal at his mercy.
South Africa continued to enjoy the upper hand with Serero coming close to completing his brace on the cusp of half-time. Following a frantic passage of play, Ngcongca picked out the Ajax Amsterdam midfielder who could only manage to direct his effort straight at Mahgoub.
Bafana continued where they left off after the break with Rantie forcing Mahgoub into a good save before having a goal ruled out for offside.
Rantie finally found his goal in the 53rd minute. The Bafana Bafana speedster picked up Serero’s pass before weaving his way through the Sudanese defence and hitting the ball home.
South Africa continued to dominate, but they were punished for failing to put the game to bed in the 77th minute as Salah Ibrahim pulled a goal back for the Falcons of Jediane.
A free-kick from deep found its way to the El Hilal forward who made no mistake from close range.
Sudan surged forward in the final exchanges, but Bafana Bafana held on to record a hard-fought victory.
The win means South Africa have successfully qualified for their first international tournament by means of a qualifying campaign, since the 2008 African Cup of Nations in Ghana.
South Africa (1) 2 (Serero 38’ Rantie 53’)
Sudan (0) 1 (Salah Ibrahim 77’)
South Africa: Keet; Ngcongca, Mathoho, Coetzee, Khumalo, Furman, Jali, Manyisa, Serero (Letsholonyane 88’), Rantie, Ndulula (Sekola 58’) Sudan: Mahgoub; Elrayah Ali (Mahmoud 70’), Mamoun, Gafar, Kosti, Babeker, Tahir (Salah Ibrahim 59’), Nassir (Omer 46’), Hassan, Eltaib Ibrahim, Suliman