A penalty miss proved costly as Algeria came from a goal down to beat South Africa 3-1 in a 2015 African Cup of Nations encounter at the Estadio de Mongomo in Equatorial Guinea on Monday evening.
Goals from Islam Slimani, Faouzi Ghoulam and an own goal from Thulani Hlatshwayo moved the Fennec Foxes top of Group C as South Africa rued missed chances in what was an exciting encounter in Mongomo.
Thuso Phala opened the scoring on the night and Bafana Bafana should’ve been 2-0 up nine minutes into the second-half but Tokelo Rantie missed from the spot.
That rattling of the crossbar proved the turning point, with the South Africans losing their way as the Algerians grew in confidence and belief.
Like has been the case over the games leading up to the Algerian test, Bafana Bafana started slow with the North Africans seeing all the early possession with South Africa pegged in their own half in the opening 15 minutes.
South Africa though weathered the storm with Darren Keet particularly impressive in commanding his penalty area.
After soaking up the early pressure South Africa started to come into their own with Dean Furman coming within a whisker to net his third goal for his country in the 23rd minute.
The Doncaster Rovers midfielder’s shot looked sure to rattle the back of the net, but Rais M’bolhi did enough to force his effort from range onto the crossbar.
South Africa were then dealt an early blow as Rivaldo Coetzee had to be stretchered off, Siyabonga Nhlapo replacing the Ajax Cape Town man, meaning Bafana were to see out the game with four recognised fullbacks in their defensive positions.
Despite this Shakes Mashaba’s men continued to look the more threatening as the half grew on and should’ve had at least one goal to show for their efforts at the break.
Sibusiso Vilakazi and then Andile Jali denied by M’Bolhi who continued were he left off in major competitions having been impressive at last year’s Fifa World Cup.
Phala opened the scoring six minutes into the second-half. Superb interplay between Jali and Vilakazi down the left flank left the SuperSport United winger with the easiest of finishes.
Bafana should’ve been 2-0 up soon after following a foul on Vilakazi inside the area. Rantie though failed to find the back of the net, subsequently presenting the Fennec Foxes with a life-line.
Something that would not go to waste for Christian Gourcuff’s men who were level in the 67th minute after Hlatshwayo headed Yacine Brahimi’s cross into the back of his own net.
The momentum was completely with the Algerians as Ghoulam put the North Africans ahead five minutes later, skipping past Oupa Manyisa before firing past Keet.
Slimani wrapped things up in the 83rd minute, driving a low shot past Keet who should’ve done better, to condemn Bafana to their first loss under Shakes Mashaba.
Algeria (0) 3 (Hlatshwayo OG 67′, Ghoulam 72′ Slimani 83′)
South Africa (0) 1 (Phala 51′)
Algeria: M’Bolhi; Mandi, Medjani, Halliche, Ghoulam, Feghouli, Bentaleb, Lacen (Taider 64′), Mahrez (Belfodil 60′), Brahimi (Soudani 90′), Slimani
South Africa: Keet; Ngcongca, Hlatshwayo, Coetzee (Nhlapo 30′),Furman, Jali, Manyisa, Phala, Vilakazi (Masango 85′), Rantie (Ndulula 79′)