Themba Zwane stole the show with a stunning exhibition of football brilliance, scoring twice in a frenetic 16-minute first-half blitz to push South Africa to a thumping victory over Namibia and securing their first points in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
The redemption quest for Percy Tau, who had previously missed a penalty in Bafana Bafana’s opening defeat against Mali, commenced with an early penalty that set the tone for South Africa’s dominance. Zwane’s brilliance came to the forefront as he first met Thapelo Morena’s precision cross with a fierce finish before seamlessly adding his second with a well-timed clip after an electrifying run into the box.
Substitute Thapelo Maseko compounded Namibia’s misery, capitalizing on a goalkeeping error by Lloyd Kazapua, who failed to handle Maseko’s strike from Teboho Mokoena’s long ball. The 4-0 victory showcased South Africa’s attacking prowess and marked a historic moment for Hugo Broos’ players, claiming the largest win in their country’s Afcon history.
The drama unfolded early in the match when referee Youcef Gamouh penalized Riaan Hanamub for a handball while defending against a Morena delivery. Percy Tau, seizing the opportunity for redemption, calmly converted the resulting penalty, setting the stage for South Africa’s attacking spectacle.
Thapelo Morena, with an eye-catching run down the right flank, provided the assist for Zwane’s second goal, doubling South Africa’s lead. The 34-year-old veteran exhibited composure and skill in adding his second from close range, completing a dazzling first-half attacking display. Morena’s individual efforts, including a curling effort that was tipped over, contributed to the overall flair of South Africa’s performance.
Despite Namibia’s early attacking intent, with Prins Tjiueza forcing a save from Ronwen Williams in the fourth minute, they struggled to capitalize on opportunities. Riaan Hanamub’s creativity, threading a ball through Mothobi Mvala’s legs to set up Absalom Limbondi, resulted in a missed chance as the midfielder sent his shot over the crossbar.
Namibia’s captain, Peter Shalulile, a feared striker for Mamelodi Sundowns, failed to connect with crosses from Hanamub, adding to Namibia’s frustrations. The pace of the game slowed in the second half, with South Africa adopting a more defensive approach against a Namibian side lacking the cutting edge in the final third.
Looking ahead, both teams are set for decisive matches on Wednesday, with South Africa facing Tunisia and Namibia meeting Mali. The stakes are high, with automatic progression to the last 16 on the line. The Brave Warriors have an opportunity to surpass the 1996 champions by achieving a better result, while both nations harbor hopes of qualifying as one of the four best third-placed teams if they fall just outside the top two.
As the curtain falls on this exhilarating encounter, South Africa’s swaggering performance not only marked their first points in the tournament but also established them as a formidable force. The anticipation builds for the upcoming clashes, where the fate of South Africa and Namibia will be decided in the thrilling landscape of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.