Libya frustrated South Africa to a goalless draw in their Group E Day Two clash on Saturday at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. The Mediterranean Knights and Bafana are level on four points each after two rounds of matches, but the North Africans are top of the group on goal difference.
Nigeria defeated Southern African outfit Seychelles 3-0 in the other Group E match to get their campaign up running to register their first three points.
Libya were the better of the two teams and with more luck on their side they could have stolen all the three points. It was uninspiring performance for Bafana Bafana in a game that they were expected to win, but credit should be given to the Mediterranean Knights for putting up a good fight.
Libya returned to South Africa for the first time since their historic African Nations Championships (CHAN) triumph in 2014 following a dramatic 4-3 penalty shoot-out victory over Ghana in the final in Cape Town in 2014.
The Mediterranean Knights took the game by the scarf of its neck giving Bafana something to ponder about. For a team that is going through instability at home, the visitors gave a performance to be proud of in the first half. They were comfortable and looked more at home in the coast than their host in opening half.
They caught the home side off guard on numerous occasions hitting the post and also forcing Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune into a stunning saves as they were the quickest to find their feet. Bafana struggled, but created a few half chances.
They were unable to penetrate the visitors who were rock solid at the back. Brighton Hove & Albion signing Percy Tau, who is on loan to Belgian outfit Union SG, was the bubblier of the Bafana players in the final third of the visitors. Tau was at times assisted by Vincent Pule and Keagan Dolly up front as Bafana searched for the breakthrough.
The visitors created two clear cut goal scoring opportunities and will consider themselves unlucky not to have gone into the half-time break a goal to the goal. While Bafana relied on individual brilliance, the Libyans were brilliant as a team and their build-up play was good for the eye as they were nearly rewarded for a great first half showing.
There was a downpour in the opening half and the Libyans seemed to cope better with the wet weather conditions than Bafana. The visitors were the happier of the two teams’ performance wise going into the interval and Bafana needed to make some key changes and to bring their danger man Tau into the game to wrestle back control of the game.
At the end Libya were full value of their point, while Bafana were left frustrated by the lack of make use of their home ground advantage.