Siyaya e-Egypt! Tau double sends Bafana to Afcon

Two moments of Percy Tau genius and technical quality booked South Africa their spot in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt in June.

South Africa beat Libya 2-1 in their Afcon qualifier Group E match thanks to the brilliant Percy Tau. (AFP)

CAPE TOWN - On a challenging pitch in Sfax Tunisia, South Africa beat Libya 2-1 in their 2019 African Cup of Nations Group E qualifier. Bafana finished second in their group - a point behind Nigeria.

Stuart Baxter’s men, needing only a draw, set up quite conservatively with five defenders in the starting XI. The first half ended goalless which was indicative of the type of attritional battle the 45 minutes was about.

Darren Keet was safe houses. He made a handful of clean saves and looked solid throughout the half.

On attack, South Africa lacked the cutting edge but could be spared some sympathy on a bouncy pitch in Tunisia.

The second half made up for the lack of drama in the first, as five minutes in Percy Tau handed Bafana the lead with a sweetly struck left-foot shot from just outside the box. The goal took the wind out of the Libyan players and fans.

Luckily for Libya, they were awarded an innocuous penalty decision. Superb all night, goalkeeper Keet’s flailing leg, while collecting a routine catch, struck a Libyan player's face. The referee pointed to the spot and Ahmad Benali made no mistake with a well-taken penalty to level matters.

It was now 1-1 with 25 minutes left of normal time. The goal, of course, reinvigorated a tiring Libyan side and their fans. However, just three minutes after their equaliser Libya were dealt another hammer blow; a well taken set-piece move from a corner that saw Tau snatch a brace.

The diminutive forward curled a right-footed shot from inside the box to break Libyan hearts. It was another moment of sheer technical genius from the former Mamelodi Sundowns striker which handed South Africa a 2-1 lead.

With just over 20 minutes left, the Libyan fans grew frustrated and their anger manifested in a number of plastic bottles on the pitch.

South Africa held their nerve and maintained the 2-1 lead for the massive victory which sent Bafana to their
first Afcon since 2015 under Shakes Mashaba.