(Reuters) – South Africa’s Bongani Zungu scored with a header from a second-half corner to secure a 1-0 win over Namibia on Friday and his country’s first points in Group D of the Africa Cup of Nations.
The 68th minute goal will have brought relief more than anything else to the regional giants against their northern neighbours, whose population of just over 2.5 million would easily fit into one of South Africa’s major cities.
Minnows Namibia again provided stout resistance – and created a scare or two of their own – before conceding at a set-piece as the defence and goalkeeper Loydt Kazapua missed the ball and allowed Zungu a simple header into an empty net.
South Africa, who lost their opening game to the Ivory Coast, are now back in the running to reach the knockout round with three points, while Namibia still have none after allowing a last-gasp own goal in their first group game against Morocco.
The Moroccans top the group with six points after a 1-0 win over the Ivorians, who remain on three, earlier on Friday.
The opening 40 minutes at the near-empty Al Salam Stadium on Friday were characterised by a regular turnover of possession, poor passing and even weaker shooting before South Africa striker Percy Tau had a first effort on target which was saved.
After the break, Tau was set free after a quick passing move but stumbled and lost his footing with the goal at his mercy.
With 25 minutes left, South Africa keeper Darren Keet failed to hold onto a cross, allowing Deon Hotto to get Namibia’s first effort on target but it was cleared off the line.
That missed opportunity came back to haunt Namibia just minutes later as Zungu netted. South Africa then had a myriad of half chances to extend their lead but were wasteful.
The last group games on Monday see Morocco take on South Africa and Namibia face the Ivory Coast.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ken Ferris)