Mphela's 'killer' instinct lifts South Africa
Katlego Mphela scored in the final minute of stoppage time to secure a crucial 1-0 victory for South Africa over Egypt in a 2012 CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifier. Living up to his 'Killer' nickname, Mphela put a quiet evening at Ellis Park behind him as he raced onto a through ball and fired across Essam al-Hadary into the far corner of the net.
A capacity 55,000 Ellis Park crowd erupted with relief as 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ hosts had rarely threatened while match-rusty Egypt often looked the better team and came close to taking the lead several times.
"I waited throughout the match for that special moment when a pass would set me free. Egypt were smart and organised at the back but we have beaten them," said Mphela.
Coach Pitso Mosimane, who succeeded Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira after hosts South Africa made a first round exit from the FIFA World Cup, was emotionally drained as the final whistle blew.
"What a moment! I knew 'Killer' could do it and ignored chants from some within the crowd for him to be substituted. We have a six-point lead over Egypt with three rounds to go and that is great."
Victory lifted Bafana Bafana to seven points and they are sure to remain at the top of Group G no matter the outcome between second-place Niger and Sierra Leone in Niamey tomorrow. Niger have three points, Sierra Leone two and defending champions Egypt are in danger of missing the finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea with just one point from three outings.
Lacking competitive match practice because domestic football was suspended in mid-January after, Egypt twice came close to breaking the deadlock before half-time. A flying header from defender Mahmoud Fathallah off a corner was just too high and midfielder Mahmoud 'Shikabala' Abdelrazek fired hopelessly wide when left unmarked inside the box.
Al-Hadary was seriously tested for the first time on 69 minutes when he sprang into action as substitute Tlou Segolela cut in and he made a few brave blocks soon after before Mohamed Shawky went close in the other goalmouth.