‘Baby Bafana’ drew their opening match against Ivory Coast 1-1, and it was a similar situation as they once again took the lead against the Gabonese, but then lost concentration and conceded late on.
And that will be such a bitter pill for Shakes Mashaba to swallow after a game in which the dominated possession for large parts, and also had numerous clear-cut goalscoring chances.
Sameegh Doutie had a goalbound shot blocked on 20 minutes before Ace Bhengu hit the upright with his diving header later on.
However, there was no stopping Mandla Masango’s headed effort five minutes before the break – the Kaizer Chiefs man finishing off after Rodney Ramolega’s deflected cross came his way.
Substitute Bhongu Jayiya then missed a free header from six yards out just past the hour-mark, and South Africa were made to pay for that when some poor marking from a corner allowed Lengoualama to head home with 10 minutes remaining.
Gabon had goalkeeper Mikiela sent off five minutes from time for a bad challenge on Jabulani Shongwe, but some serious time-wasting and inept officiating meant South Africa didn’t have a chance to capitalize on the advantage.
SA U23 starting XI: Brilliant Khuzwayo - Phumelele Bhengu, Sibusiso Mxoyana, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Gladwin Shitolo - Thandani Ntshumayelo, Sameehg Doutie, Mandla Masango (Zulu 67), Jabulani Shongwe - Riaan Eugene (Jayiya 54), Rodney Ramagalela (Khumalo 60)