DURBAN, South Africa, January 23 – South Africa won an Africa Cup of Nations match for the first time in nine years by outplaying Angola 2-0 to go top of Group A Wednesday.
Bafana Bafana (The Boys), whose last success came against Benin at the 2004 tournament in Tunisia, triumphed through goals from centre-back Siyabonga Sangweni who plays for Orlando Pirates and substitute striker Lehlohonolo Majoro of Kaizer Chiefs.
It was a much improved showing by the host nation after a 0-0 draw with Cape Verde last Saturday, and better passing, movement and finishing lifted them to four points and within sight of a quarter-finals place.
South Africa made five changes from the team lucky to hold debutants Cape Verde in Soweto with Tsepo Masilela, Dean Furman, May Mahlangu, Katlego Mphela and Tokelo Rantie introduced.
The changes had a desirable effect with Bafana Bafana putting an awful tournement opener behind them in the late-afternoon sun of this Indian Ocean city to deservedly lead 1-0 at half-time.
Sangweni broke the deadlock on the half-hour mark and ended a 315-minute goal drought since Mahlangu converted a penalty against Malawi at the same venue last month in a warm-up match.
Lunguinha made a hash of attempting to clear a free kick lofted deep into the box and his header fell invitingly for Sangweni to rifle a low left-foot shot across goalkeeper Lama into the far corner.
Stung by conceding their first goal of the tournament after a goalless draw with Morocco last weekend, Angola retaliated swiftly and goalkeeper Ttumeleng Khune did well to push away a Manucho header for a corner.
Captain Manucho threatened again soon after as he chased a long pass and Khune got to the ball just in time to nod it away from the lanky Spain-based striker.
Mateus and Rantie squandered half chances as the opening half drew to a close with the unmarked Angolan shooting wildly and the South African seeing a header land on the roof of the net.
Khune rescued South Africa soon after half-time, diving low to block a shot from former Switzerland under-21 international Guilhermo Afonso and the Black Antelopes also failed to take advantage of a two-on-two situation in attack.
It proved costly as Reneilwe Letsholonyane sent fellow subsitute Majoro clear almost immediately and his penalty-area doggedness paid off when he fired a shot between the legs of Lama to give the hosts a two-goal advantage.