Bafana too tame against Gambia

AS IT HAPPENED: Bafana 0-0 Gambia

Bafana Bafana were again left kicking themselves at the failure to take their chances as Thabo Matlaba, Thuso Phala, Thamsanqa Gabuza and Siphelele Ntshangase missed the best opportunities.

Shakes Mashaba's side predictably bossed the majority of possession throughout the game but were unable to breach a physical, compact and tactically disciplined Gambia defence.

In fact, Gambia arguably had the better of the first half chances as they looked to hit South Africa on quick counter-attacks using the pace of Omar Colley and Modou Barrow, with the Bafana defence looking uncomfortable dealing with their threat.

Gabuza had a good chance to silence the critics within the first 10 minutes when he was played in behind by Ayanda Patosi but, under pressure from a defender, his shot was saved by Modou Jobe in the Gambia goal.

Bafana came back into their match and found more rhythm towards the end of the first half but despite a lot of short, quick, intricate and enterprising passing around the edge of the box between Patosi, Thulani Serero, May Mahlangu and Mandla Masango – complemented by some good hold-up play from Thamsanqa Gabuza – they were unable to get behind the Gambia defence or forge a telling final pass.

The second half continued in much the same vein but Bafana's best chances came in the last 15 minutes. It started with Thuso Phala – aiming at an open goal – sidefooting straight to the Gambia goalkeeper after he had parried Thabo Matlaba's shot into Phala's path.

Then substitute and debutant Siphelele Ntshangase combined well with Masango on the edge of the area and teed up Matlaba, who blazed wildly over when well placed to score.

Ntshangase nearly made it a dream debut two minutes from time when he picked up the ball on the halfway line, drove forward with purpose and played a one-two with Mahlangu, setting him one-on-one with the keeper, but his placed shot with his instep went agonisingly wide of the far-right corner.

Bafana XI: Khune, Ngcongca (c), Coetzee, Hlatshwayo, Matlaba, Jali, Mahlangu, Serero (Ntshangase 65'), Manyisa (Masango 39'), Patosi, Gabuza (Phala 70')

Gambia XI: Jobe, Jammeh (c), Marreh, Savage (Mansally 64'), Jagne, Barrow, Colley, Sohna, Dibba, Nyassi, Ousman Koli (Ceesay 53')