Shabalala's Heroics Keep South Africa's U23 Afcon Dreams Alive |'s Heroics Keep South Africa's U23 Afcon Dreams Alive

Shabalala’s Heroics Keep South Africa’s U23 Afcon Dreams Alive

In the 2023 Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, South Africa had to fight back to secure a 1-1 draw against Congo-Brazzaville. The game was played at Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto. While South Africa dominated possession in the first half, they struggled to create clear-cut chances against the Young Red Devils’ solid and compact defence.

Congo took the lead just before half-time when Rhaemma Bissila headed home from close range after South Africa’s defence was caught out. However, South Africa coach David Notoane introduced Mduduzi Shabalala just after the hour mark. The Kaizer Chiefs starlet changed the complexion of the game, delivering a cross that Thapelo Maseko controlled well before scoring in the 67th minute to level the scores.

Kaizer Chiefs' Shabalala comes to Notoane's rescue as South Africa keep U23  Afcon hopes alive against Congo-Brazzaville | South Africa

Shabalala, who was surprisingly named among the substitutes by Notoane, displayed his quality and ability after coming on as a substitute. His sharp movement and good link-up play unsettled the Congolese defence, and he grabbed an assist. Notoane will have to consider starting Shabalala in the second-leg clash, as he could be key to securing an away win for South Africa.

South Africa are now on the back foot, as Congo holds the advantage on the away goals rule. It is imperative for Notoane’s side to score in Congo to stand a chance of winning the tie. The winner on aggregate will qualify for the U23 Afcon finals, which are scheduled to be hosted by Morocco between June 24 and July 8.

South Africa’s next challenge is a match against Congo at Stade Alphonse Massemba-Débat in Brazzaville on Monday. The team will need to put in a strong performance to overcome Congo and secure their place in the U23 Afcon finals.

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