World Cup qualifying: South Africa 2 Central African Republic 0
By Football News
South Africa defeated the Central African Republic 2-0 at home in World Cup qualifying to revive their hopes of reaching Brazil next year.
The hosts of the last FIFA World Cup in 2010, South Africa had made a poor start in CAF Group A, drawing with Ethiopia and Botswana to sit third in the standings.
But they registered their first victory on Saturday, climbing above the Central African Republic and Ethiopia to lead the pool on five points.
Dominating the contest early in Cape Town, South Africa went close through Tokelo Rantie 11 minutes in, but he shot wide from Dean Furman's cross.
Thabo Matlaba was the next man to threaten six minutes later, heading wide from a Reneilwe Letsholonyane delivery.
A rare foray forward in the 20th minute saw the visitors go close, South Africa goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune called into action to keep out Foxi Kethevoama's long-range effort.
With Furman, Letsholonyane and May Mahlangu controlling possession, the home side's sustained pressure eventually paid off.
Matlaba was the man to break the deadlock, beating Geoffrey Lembet with a strike from distance in the 34th minute.
South Africa lost the influential Furman to injury two minutes before half-time, with Kagisho Dikgacoi brought on in his place.
The Central African Republic took advantage of the disruption to enjoy their best spell of the match early in the second half, Joshua Balamandji's 50th-minute free-kick forcing Khune into an excellent save.
'The Wild Beasts' thought they had equalised soon afterwards, only to see Vivien Mabide's effort ruled out for handball.
Balamandji went close again from an indirect free-kick inside the Bafana box.
At the other end, Mahlangu nearly doubled South Africa's lead on 63 minutes, Lembet diverting his low strike onto the crossbar and out for a corner.
The visitors were ultimately punished for their profligacy, Siphiwe Tshabalala playing a ball in behind the defence and Bernard Parker making no mistake with the finish.
Eloge Enza-Yamissi came closest to pulling one back for the Central African Republic in the 80th minute, while Mahlangu, Matlaba and Tshabalala all missed good chances to notch South Africa's third in the closing stages.
Ethiopia can regain top spot in Group A from South Africa if they win at home to Botswana on Sunday.