Bafana Bafana walloped the Zebras of Botswana 4-1 helped by a brace by Bernard Parker but the huge win was not good enough to take South Africa to the next stage of the World Cup qualifiers as leaders Ethiopia overcame Central African Republic to progress to the last 10.
South Africa’s other goals came from Kermit Erasmus and outstanding Dean Furman.
However, the compelling victory came too little too late as Ethiopia edged out CAR in Congo, Brazzaville to advance to the last 10 grouping of African countries which will go into the draw to determine five countries that will go to Brazil.
However, coach Gordon Igesund will take heart at the way his charges dismantled the visitors scoring four top quality goals.
Bafana Bafana were off the blocks from the word go and were all over the Zebras forcing a corner kick in the second minute.
Kagisho Dikgacoi could have opened the account in the seventh minute but his shot was well saved by the Zebras goalkeeper Kabelo Dambe. The Crystal Palace midfielder’s second attempt again fell in the hands of the Botswana goal-minder as South Africa sought for a bright start.
In the 11th minute, Botswana made a swift counter-attack after an early surge and Bongani Khumalo’s desperate clearance forced the visitors’ first corner kick.
Siphiwe Tshabalala had a good effort going narrowly over the bar from a free-kick after Erasmus was fouled just outside the box.
In the 25th minute, Bafana made a sweeping attack but Dambe was quick off his line to thwart Erasmus who was charging towards goal after a brilliant cross by Thabo Matlaba.
Erasmus was not going to be denied in the 28th minute though as, after a good corner by Tshabalala, he nodded home a Parker flick to make it 1-0.
It was a deserved goal after incessant pressure from the home side.
In the 31st minute, Dambe made another brilliant save after another sweeping move by Bafana Bafana which resulted in Parker’s point blank shot. With the crowd buzzing, having heard news that CAR had taken a 1-0 lead over Ethiopia, Dambe was again inspirational denying the hosts on several occasions.
Furman then made it 2-0 a few seconds into added time with a smart finish after a long pass from the midfield; a handsome lead going into the break.
Bafana Bafana started off the second half the way they ended the first stanza and Tokelo Rantie could not beat Dambe on one-on-one situations in the 47th minute.
Bafana Bafana then made their first change bringing in Bongani Zungu for Erasmus who scored the opening goal.
In the 65th minute, Andile Jali came in for Dikgacoi as Igesund tried to bring steel in the midfield.
Botswana then pulled a goal back in the 72nd minute through their inspirational striker, Jerome Ramatlhakwane whose header gave Itumeleng Khune no chance to set up a tense finish.
As the Zebras finished strongly, they forced another corner in the 78th minute as Bafana held on to their slender lead.
Parker then made it safe for Bafana through a well-taken free-kick in the 83rd minute to make the scoreline 3-1. The free-kick came after Rantie was hacked down just outside the box when he was heading for the goal.
Daine Klate then came in for Tshabalala in the 87th minute and immediately earned a penalty which was well tacked home by Parker for his 17th international goal.