Sudan beat South Africa 2-0 at Al-Hilal Stadium in Omdurman in a must-win clash to go through to the 2022 AFCON finals at the expense of the Bafana Bafana.
This will be Sudan’s 9th appearance at Africa’s biggest continental football competition and the first time the side has qualified in 10 years.
South Africa just needed a draw to qualify, much like Uganda in Group B who succumbed to Malawi that saw the Flames go through to the final tournament instead.
The result for the South Africans was not different either as they choked in the most important game of their season. Credit needs to be given to the home side, however, that looked threatening and motivated from the start of the game.
Sudan took control in the first half of the game itself and there was just too much for Bafana Bafana to do in order to find a way back.
First half goals from Saifeldin Maki and Mohammed Abdelrahman put Sudan up 2-0, taking them to their first finals since 2012.
Maki opened the scoring for the home side after 14 minutes as the Falcons of Jediane started imposing their will on the game.
Abdelrahman made it 2-0 at the half hour mark through a sensational solo goal to beat the defender and goalkeeper with beautiful skill.
It is only the third time since 1976 for Sudan to have qualified for the AFCON finals. The nation won the title back in 1970.
South Africa, however, bow out of the competition that went decently until this decider that brings an end to another disappointing campaign for the 1996 AFCON champions.
Sudan join Ghana in the AFCON finals from Group C as their win put them on 12 points, 1 behind the Black Stars who topped the group with 13 points.
It is not very often that a team gets to 10 points in a 4-team group and fails to qualify. Maybe if South Africa were in another group, the 10 may have been enough.
South Africa’s coach Molefi Ntseki, however, was extremely disappointed with the result.
He said, “Not qualifying has dented our image, our possibilities.
“As passionate South Africans, the expectation was for Bafana Bafana to qualify for AFCON – and maybe to do better than the last time. The disappointment goes to every South African.
“As players, as coaches, we are very much aware of the emotional pain we have caused all South Africans.”
“Coming into Sudan, it is a foreign land, with foreign challenges,” he said.
“Having to travel immediately after the game, then one training session and then a match.”
He explained that knowing they only needed a draw, “the idea was not to concede.”
Sudan scored early and doubled their advantage 30 minutes into the game, dashing South African hopes and they could just not mount a comeback.
“It was a very big setback for us to concede two goals in the first half,” he said.
“We missed chances. On the day we could not get a goal or see ourselves getting an equaliser.”
Here is how Group C of the 2021 AFCON qualifiers finished.
- Ghana – 13 points (Q)
- Sudan – 12 points (Q)
- South Africa – 10 points
- Sao Tome and Principe – 0 points
Sudan won all 3 of their last games to secure qualification. It was a truly commendable performance by them and nothing can be taken away from the East African side.