South Africa beat Ethiopia 1-0 in a CAF second-round 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifying match at FNB Stadium on Tuesday.
Hours after Ghana had moved top of Group G, Bafana Bafana reclaimed the No 1 spot with a narrow win over the Walia Ibex in Soweto in front of some 2 000 spectators.
It was the first time South African football fans were allowed to attend a match in 18 months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The only goal of the game came in the first half as in the 11th minute pressure from Victor Letsoalo resulted in Ethiopia captain Getaneh Kebede Gibeto putting the ball in his own net.
Despite the deficit, the away side continued to push forward for an equaliser.ADVERTISING
First through a long range effort from Mesud Mohamed Mussa and then a strike from Gibeto was straight at Ronwen Williams before his second strike went wide of the mark.
South Africa then had a good chance to double their lead but Bongukhule Hlongwane’s effort went over the bar as the teams went into the break with Bafana leading 1-0.
The action in the second half took a while to get going, with the first attacks on goal coming in the 50th minute as Njabulo Ngcobo strike with the outside of his foot went wide.
That was followed bye Evidence Makgopa being handled a clean shot at goal but his effort failed to connect with the ball. Ethen Brooks then had an even better chance to score as his pass evaded the goalkeeper but it was cleared off the line.
In the 76th minute, Hlongwane went down in the box but despite protests from his teammates, no penalty was given.
With the team looking for some reward for their hard tuning, Abel Yalew Tilahun tried a speculator scissor kick in the 86th minutes but it went over the bar.
It was a stop, start, end to the game but South Africa managed to see it through as they remain unbeaten in Group G.
They are top of the group with 10 points, one clear of Ghana who beat Zimbabwe 1-0 earlier on Tuesday.
Bafana will play both teams in return leg qualifiers in November.
The 10 group winners will meet in the final round of qualifiers with the winners of the five clashes progressing to the World Cup in Qatar, which starts in November 2022.
Before the game, there was confusion as fans without tickets argued that they should be let in as they meet the vaccination requirements, arguing they were told they could collect once they got to the ground.
Security, however, stop their ground as they were not allowed in.
The game was part of the pilot project that saw fans return to a stadium for the first time in 18 months, which required vaccinated supporters to show their cards at the point of entry before undergoing temperature checks, and then given their tickets to enter the stadium.