local soccer 20.6.2015 05:14 pm

Ntshangase stars as Bafana maul Maurtitius

Thamsanqa Gabuza of South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

Thamsanqa Gabuza of South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

Siphelele Ntshangase produced a fine brace on Saturday as Bafana Bafana cruised to a 3-0 victory over Mauritius in the first leg of their 2016 African Nations Championships qualifier at Dobsonville Stadium.

The Black Leopards forward scored his first two goals for his country in his first start for Bafana, having previously made two substitute appearances. Ntshangase was even denied a hat trick late on as his shot was cleared off the line and a header came back off the crossbar. Thamsanqa Gabuza netted Bafana’s opener against Mauritius, his second goal in a week for his country.

Bafana started the game with three new caps, Wandisile Letlabika playing at right back, and Musa Nyatama and William Twala in the midfield. Itumeleng Khune captained the side on his 28th birthday. Ntshangase had the best chance in the first few minutes, heading wide a fine cross from Gabuza. Midfielder Gift Motupa then blasted over the bar from long range as early on, Bafana battled to break down their opponents.

Mauritius threatened little themselves, though they were a bit unlucky when Maminiaina Rasolofonirina’s header from a corner cannoned back off Gabuza’s head, with the Pirates striker knowing little about it. In the 18th minute, Gabuza and Ntshangase combined again, this time to set up Motupa, and his effort was parried over the bar by Jean Louis Obrian.

Bafana took the lead in the 25th minute, as a short corner saw Marc Van Heerden cross and Gabuza was on hand at the back post to slam the ball home from close range. Just a couple of minutes later, Bafana were further in front. A long ball to Gabuza wide right saw the Pirates striker produce a brilliant flick into the path of Mandla Masango. Masango threaded a perfectly-weighted ball through for Ntshangase, who finished low through Obrian’s legs.

Masango then found space in the Mauritian penalty area, but his shot was tipped onto the inside of the post by Obrian, and unfortunately for Masango, bounced away from goal. Not to be deterred, Bafana went three up on the stroke of half time. Nice work from Gabuza set up Ntshangase, who worked an angle and fired an excellent shot into the far corner of the net. Bafana kept pressing after the break and Obrian had to be alert to tip over a free kick from Van Heerden.

Mauritius threatened briefly at the other end as Louis Pithia dragged his shot wide from a good position inside the Bafana penalty area. Gabuza was next to threaten for Bafana, but a poor first touch took him too wide, and his shot was easily turned away for a corner. Moroka Swallows’ striker Vuyisile Wana came off the bench to replace William Twala in the 67th minute and he had a glorious chance to score when Ntshangase played him in with a sublime pass, but Wana shot straight at Obrian.

Khune could mostly have spent the game making himself a cup of tea and reading a book, but he had to be alert to stop a fierce drive from L’Enclume late on. Just after that, L’Enclume was sent off for a second bookable offence for a poor tackle on Letlabika. There was still time for Ntshangase to see an effort cleared off the line and another cannon back off the bar, but Bafana have given themselves a healthy advantage to take to Mauritius in two weeks time.

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