Bafana Bafana suffered a disappointing result at home on Saturday as they were held to a goalless draw by Libya in their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Group E qualifier at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
The result leaves Bafana tied on four points with Libya, who top the group on goal difference. Nigeria’s 3-0 win in the Seychelles puts them just a point further back.
Stuart Baxter’s side didn’t really do enough to deserve to win the game, and Libya might even have grabbed the three points themselves, hitting the post in the first half.
Dean Furman almost opened proceedings with a wonderful goal in the 8th minute, winning the ball brilliantly in midfield and attempting a chip over Muhammed Nashnoush that just landed on the roof of the net.
It soon became clear that while Libya were prepared to sit back and absorb pressure from Bafana where necessary, they were certainly not just here to defend, causing Stuart Baxter’s defence all sorts of problems in the first half.
In the 9th minute Rabia Alshadi found space inside the area and his shot was well saved at his near post by Itumeleng Khune.
Vincent Pule then conceded possession poorly inside his own half, and the ball came to Mohamed El Monir, who whipped in a vicious low cross that Anis Saltou turned onto the post.
Midfielder Ali Elmusrati was the next man to test Khune, his long range effort spectacularly tipped away by the Bafana ‘keeper.
Bafana were getting little change out of their opponents at the other end, though they did cause a couple of scares from set pieces. On one such occasion, Ramahlwe Mphahlele’s flick on from a corner flew across the face of goal.
Percy Tau then almost create a bit of magic out of nowhere, flicking the ball up for himself and volleying an effort that forced Nashnoush into his first save of the night.
And right at the end of the first half, Sibusiso Vilakazi just failed to get on the end of a cross before the ball fell to Sifiso Hlanti on the edge of the area, and he lashed over.
Bafana started the second half with a bit more spark, and Buhle Mkhwanazi headed Keagan Dolly’s corner just wide in the 49th minute.
Tau and Dolly were linking far better in this half, with Bradley Grobler also brought on to add some fight up front, but Bafana still battled to create clear chances.
When Dolly did send Tau clear, Sand Masaud made a superb last ditch challenge to deny the Belgium-based attacker.
At the other end, similar brilliance from Thulani Hlatshwayo stopped Saltou from getting a shot away.
In the 76th minute, Tau found Dolly with a raking pass, and he skipped inside but his shot flew well off target.
Still Bafana battled to find a way through and Grobler was next to miss, heading Dolly’s cross well off target. When Nashnoush tipped over Kamohelo Mokotjo’s effort in stoppage time, the last chance of the game had gone.