Host nation's relief as SAfrica beats Angola 2-0
DURBAN, South Africa (AP) -A vastly improved South Africa scored in each half to beat Angola 2-0 at the African Cup of Nations on Wednesday, giving the host nation huge relief and reviving Bafana Bafana's chances of making the quarterfinals.
Defender Siyabonga Sangweni netted with a volley from a tight angle in the 30th minute to ease the crushing pressure on coach Gordon Igesund and his team.
Substitute Lehlohonolo Majoro then sneaked a shot through Angola goalkeeper Lama's legs in the 62nd for a vital cushion in the Group A game at Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Apart from a third-minute scare, when Angola's Mateus Da Costa flashed an early shot at Itumeleng Khune's goal, South Africa had the majority of the play in Durban to move top of Group A ahead of Morocco's game against Cape Verde later Wednesday.
Sangweni's sweet volley after a loose defensive header and Majoro's skillful second also allowed South Africa to rid itself of Sunday's awful performance in the tournament opener.
"The guys stood up and were counted today, every single one of them,'' Igesund said.
Initially fearing another depressing performance, home fans ended the game singing and dancing and launching themselves into Mexican waves at the seaside venue.
Just four days ago, South Africa's lack of attacking intent in its dreadfully limp 0-0 draw with tournament debutant Cape Verde had put the team and Igesund under suffocating pressure ahead of their second game - when Bafana Bafana realistically had to win to stay on course for the quarters.
Home fans groaned at the sellout 56,000-seat Moses Mabhida when Da Costa forced Khune to scramble to his right to get a slight deflection on a teasing low shot early on.
But after that, South Africa impressed its authority on a disappointing Angola team for much of the remaining 87 minutes.
Sangweni connected with a good low volley after a header from Lunguinha sent the ball looping into the air.
In the second half, Majoro picked up possession out on the left and jinked his way to the byline, and then back infield to deceive defenders and Lama for the second, allowing South African fans to wildly celebrate what had initially threatened to be a painful affair.
Igesund made five changes to the team that was struck badly by stage fright on the opening night, starting with a new striker partnership and two new central midfielders in Durban, including Oldham's Dean Furman.
Recalled center forward Katlego Mphela troubled Angola's defense, allowing Thuso Phala and new striker Tokelo Rantie space to threaten, and Phala's ninth-minute free kick had the Angolan defense scrambling before Sangweni's strike.
Phala threatened again in the 32nd and Bernard Parker shot strongly at Lama just before halftime.
Angola's best chance came when Da Costa pulled a cross back for Guilherme Afonso in the 52nd but the powerful low shot went straight at Khune.
Khune flapped at two in-swinging corners in the last 15 minutes and Angola captain Manucho's late header wasn't strong enough to beat the Bafana `keeper.
South Africa could have added a third in a hugely different and far more positive display when Majoro attempted a lob from the edge of the penalty area with a minute to go and it drifted just over the crossbar.
"If they don't want to believe in themselves, I believe in what they're doing,'' Igesund said. "Today I took a big risk. I played with almost five strikers.''
The only possible negative for South Africa came in the last minute when goal-scorer Majoro was taken off on a stretcher with what appeared to be a painful left leg injury.
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