AFCON Ups and Downs for Bucs Internationals

Orlando Pirates attacker Deon Hotto starred as Namibia produced a historic victory in their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) opener while two Buccaneers featured for South Africa in their defeat to Mali on Tuesday night. 

The first round of Group E fixtures kicked off in a double header held at Stade Amadou Gon Coulibaly in Korhogo, with the Brave Warriors first on the bill as they squared up against the much fancied Tunisia.

It was an occasion to remember for the underdogs who stunned the Eagles of Carthage with a 1-0 victory, their first win in AFCON on their 10th attempt.

This was thanks to an inspired performance by Hotto, who produced a Man of the Match performance which he capped with the decisive last-gasp goal as he popped up in the penalty area to nod home in the 88th minute.

The result briefly took the Namibians to top spot in Group E, shortly before being overtaken by Mali who claimed a 2-0 win over South Africa at the same venue.

Bucs striker Evidence Makgopa was in the starting lineup for Bafana Bafana, and featured prominently as his side overcame early nerves to control proceedings midway through the first half.

The 23-year-old lasted 74 minutes before being replaced by teammate Zakhele Lepasa, who was unable to make a telling impact as the 1996 champions sought to claw their way back into the contest. 

It proved to be a disappointing start to the tournament for Bafana, who are bottom of the group ahead of Sunday’s clash against Namibia, which will see Hotto come up against his Pirates teammates.

Earlier in the tournament, goalkeeper Richard Ofori captained Ghana as they fell to a 2-1 defeat in their opening match against Cape Verde. The 30-year-old produced some stunning saves amid a late surge from the islanders, who eventually breached his defences through Garry Rodrigues’ injury-time winner.

The Black Stars are again in action next Monday as they face Mozambique in a bid to climb up from the bottom of Group B.

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