Bafana have failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil following their 2-1 defeat to Ethiopia in Addis Ababa. (goal.com)
Ethiopia had the first real chance in the 4th minute of the game when their free-kick was played into the Bafana penalty area for Kebede, but Itumeleng Khune dived to his left to deny the Walia Antelopes an early lead.
Bafana nearly punished their opponents in the 7th minute when Bernard Parker’s clever pass was met by May Mahlangu inside the Ethiopians’ penalty box, but the Helsingborg star ballooned his shot over the bar.
The home side looked very dangerous in their attacks, but Bafana centre-backs Thabo Nthethe and Eric Mathoho stood firm to protect Khune.
Salman Salhadin was given enough space outside the Bafana box and he unleashed a rocket that was superbly saved by Khune.
On 19 minutes, Parker shot from the edge of the box, only for the Ethiopian keeper Jemal Bushura to dive to his left for a fine save, and Bafana lacked numbers in the box to capitalize on the rebound.
Bafana nearly opened the scoring on the half-hour mark when Jemal’s poor clearance fell kindly on Parker whose header was cleared off the line by Minyehile.
Bafana deservedly took the lead in the 33rd minute when Bernard Parker out-paced the Ethiopian defence to put the ball in the back of the net with a smartly taken volley.
Reneilwe Letsholonyane should have doubled Bafana’s lead in the 40th minute, when he found himself in the Ethiopian box, but the dreadlocked midfielder shot straight into Jemal’s hands.
Ethiopia levelled matters in the 43rd minute after the ball was played between the Bafana defence and Getaneh Kebede easily beat Khune to make it 1-1.
There was little action after the Ethiopians had equalized, and the score remained 1-1 after the first 45 minutes.
Bafana started the second half well and ran onto their opponents while looking to restore their lead, but they were faced with a stubborn Ethiopian defence.
Igesund then changed his strategy five minutes into the second half when he introduced striker Tokelo Rantie for Thuso Phala, and the Malmo marksman nearly gave Bafana that second goal with his first touch, but his shot was blocked for a corner.
Bafana won the free-kick on the hour mark when Tshabalala was fouled by Reda just outside the box, but his free-kick could not get past the Ethiopian wall.
The Ethiopians were in front in the 70th minute when Bernard Parker beat his own keeper Khune with a powerful header to make it 2-1 to the Walia Antelopes. It was a freak own goal as the home side had not threatened in the second half.
Bafana then pushed everyone forward, and Rantie proved very dangerous for the visitors as they continued to search for that important equalizer.
Igesund then sacrificed Langerman for Katlego Mashego in the last 10 minutes, but there was little that the Swallows striker could do to at least rescue a draw.
Salhadin should have buried Bafana’s hopes deep into stoppage time when he missed the target with only Khune to beat.
The Ethiopians held on for the crucial three points that have seen them qualify for the playoffs of the 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifiers.