South Africa took their place in the last 16 with a thoroughly deserved 2-0 win over Honduras that sends the Central Americans heading for home. The Amajita, who were reduced to 10 men late in the match, completely dominated and, though delighted at claiming a first-ever victory at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, will be frustrated by the knowledge that another goal would have taken them into second place in Group F.
They had gone into this match bottom of the section, knowing that while a draw would suffice for their opponents, only a win would be enough to see them through. The early signs didn't auger well either, with Honduras going close inside the opening couple of minutes when Alfredo Meia sent a well-worked free-kick rocketing into the side-netting from 30 yards.
However, after a sluggish start, South Africa steadily grew into the match and went close twice inside a couple of minutes through the quick and direct George Maluleka. First, the Bafana Bafana No17 jinked through the defence and saw his shot deflected behind, then he again twisted his way through only to be denied by Francisco Reyes in the Honduras goal.
Pressure was mounting, however, and the goal that South Africa had long threatened duly arrived 14 minutes before the interval. Some frantic defending enabled Honduras to scramble half-clear, but Arnold Peralta charged in to meet the ball first time and sent a sweetly-struck right foot shot skidding low into the net from 25 yards.
South Africa were excellent value for their lead at this stage but there was always the concern that, with six goals having been conceded in the second half of their last two games, Bafana Bafana would implode in the second half. They needn't have worried. Within 30 seconds of the game re-starting, they doubled their lead, and the quality of this second goal was every bit as impressive as their first.
Kermit Erasmus, who had been quiet in the first half, slipped through Sibusiso Khumalo with an incisive through ball, and the Moroka Swallpws wingback obliged with an unstoppable shot that flew in off the far post. For South Africa, the chase was now on for a goal that would have taken them into second place, but while Erasmus went close, they lost momentum after Andile Jali saw yellow for a second bookable offence with 12 minutes remaining.