Durban - Bafana Bafana’s Fifa World Cup qualification campaign ended in heartbreak following their 1-0 defeat away to Ghana on Sunday night.
While Bafana have failed to qualify for the tournament in Qatar next year, the campaign did contain its fair share of positives and negatives.
Here, IOL Sport’s Eshlin Vedan looks at the five moments that defined Bafana’s qualifying campaign.
Heartbreak after loss to Ghana
There is no doubt that Bafana’s 1-0 loss to Ghana at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium will be at the back of diehard fans’ minds for years to come, especially due to the manner of the defeat.
The Ghanaians were awarded a penalty in a poor decision after Rushine de Reuck was wrongly penalised for supposedly having fouled Daniel Amartey in the goalmouth.
Truth be told, Ghana were the better team as the game was mainly confined to the South African half.
Percy Tau, Victor Letsoalo and Keagan Dolly could not really make much of an impact and this was through no fault of their own.
Bafana beat Ghana at FNB
Bafana beat Ghana in September via an 83rd-minute winner from Bongokuhle Hlongwane.
The result was a surprise. Nobody really fancied a young Bafana side would be able to beat Ghana, who have several players playing in high-profile European leagues.
The result proved that coach Hugo Broos has Bafana on the right track by focusing on the basics rather than elaborate game plans as those that came before him.
The result also proved that Bafana have what it takes to compete against the best teams in Africa.
Bafana draw with Zimbabwe
While Bafana lost to Ghana, which eliminated them from the reckoning for World Cup qualification, the draw with Zimbabwe in early September is one that may haunt them.
They are certainly capable of beating Zimbabwe, as they did last Friday.
Had they won the game in September, they would have finished as group winners and qualified for the final round of qualifying.
Hlongwane and Williams emerge
Maritzburg United’s Bongokuhle Hlongwane was certainly one of the biggest finds for Bafana from the qualifiers.
While he was not impressive in the last two qualifiers, he added much-needed energy to the Bafana attack and proved that South Africa do have decent attacking options without the presence of Tau.
Hlongwane still has several flaws in his game, but he is a fast learner and will almost certainly be leaving Maritzburg for greener pastures in the near future.
Questions were asked about Ronwen Williams’ leadership abilities when Broos was appointed, but the SuperSport United goalkeeper is a commanding presence between the sticks and to his teammates.
He has proven that he is definitely the best man for the job.
Youth is the way to go
Following failure after failure, Broos opted to go with a younger group of players and phased out the senior campaigners. That decision paid off.
While Bafana failed to qualify, they can bow out with their heads held high for a change.