Bongani Zungu capped a wonderful day in a Bafana Bafana shirt when he rammed home a rebound deep inside the referee’s optional time to cancel an 85th minute wonder goal by the Super Eagles’ Ahmed Musa as the two African giants shared the spoils in an exciting international friendly match at Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit on Sunday. Shakes Mashaba’s Bafana Bafana were starring defeat in the face after Musa had given Nigeria a surprise lead in the 85th minute, much against the run of play. But Bafana Bafana’s recent never-say-die attitude saw them level matters in the 93rd minute of the referee’s four minutes of added time as Mbombela erupted into wild celebrations.
Yet Bafana Bafana could have avoided the agony of seeking such a late equaliser. They dominated the entire second half and could have taken the lead in the 60th minute when the outstanding Thulani Serero was brought down in the box. However, Andile Jali casually stepped up to take the spot kick which was easily saved by Nigerian keeper, Akpeyi.
Bafana bossed up the Nigerian for most of the afternoon but it was the Super Eagles who got the first chance in the very first minute but Itumeleng Khune, returning to big time scene was equal to the task. South Africa quickly fashioned two quick chances in the opening minutes but Nigerian keeper Akpeyi repelled danger on both occasions. First he tipped over the bar Bongani Zungu snap shot before brilliantly saving Tower Mathoho’s header in quick succession.
Nigeria on the other end continued to be a threat on counter attacks but Khune looked not bothered by the few attacks. In the 25th minute, the impressive Zungu turned the Super Eagles defence upside down before crossing to Tokelo Rantie (pictured in action at the recent AFCON) whose shot was somehow turned for a corner. Jali followed soon after with another rasping shot but the attempt was turned over the bar by Akpeyi as Bafana started to turn on the heat.
Thulani Serero then showed his magic in the 38th minute but the Nigerian defenders roughed him off the ball as the match continued to swing from one end to the other. However, from the resultant free kick Oupa Manyisa curled his effort over the bar as Nigeria again, breathed some a sigh of relief. The teams went to half-time with the score still deadlocked at 0-0 but South Africa was the first to create a real opening in the 50th minute.
Rantie was brought down on the edge of the box but Serero swept his free kick wide of the posts. As South Africa continued to press forward, Serero was then brought down in the 60th minute but Jali’s casual spot kick was saved by Akpeyi as Bafana Bafana squandered a glorious opportunity to take the lead. They were made to pay dearly for it in the 85th minute when Musa’s swerving shot on the right beat Khune hands down.
However, Zungu had the last say in the match attended by thousands of supporters as he made sure the match ended in a 1-1 draw.