Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying

Libya hold blunt South Africa to goalless draw

Muaid Ellafi of Libya is challenged by Sifiso Hlanti of South Africa Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

South Africa's dismal run in home African Nations Cup qualifiers continued on Saturday when they were held to a 0-0 draw by a lively Libya at a wet Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

Bafana Bafana have now seen six of their last eight home qualifiers for the continental finals end in goalless draws as they battle to break down visiting teams.

Libya had arguably the best chances in the game though and were fully deserving of their point -- if not more -- in what will be viewed as a positive result for coach Adel Amrouche in his first game in charge.

But the outcome will only increase the pressure on Bafana coach Stuart Baxter, who is still reeling from his failure to steer the side to the World Cup in Russia. 

Libya head the pool on goal-difference from South Africa with both sides on four points from two games, while Nigeria are hovering in third after a comfortable 3-0 win in Seychelles on Saturday.

South Africa handed a debut to Orlando Pirates winger Vincent Pule, but surprisingly left in-form striker Bradley Grobler on the bench, leaving them devoid of a targetman figure up front.

Libya set up as expected with a lone striker in Anias Saltou, but showed themselves to be an organized unit with an impressive resilience in defence.

Dean Furman had a chance early for Bafana when he won possession of the ball 35-yards from goal, but his deft chip over Libya goalkeeper Mohamed Nashnush just cleared the crossbar.

The visitors had a good opening shortly afterwards as Rabia Al-Shadi produced a snap-shot from a tight angle that Itumeleng Khune did well to hold on to at his near-post. 

Libya should have been ahead on 17 minutes when a low ball into the box looked to provide a tap-in for Saltou, but the striker got his touch wrong and the ball hit the post instead.

South Africa then went close in what was an entertaining first quarter of the game as Pule's corner was headed goal-wards by Thulani Hlatshwayo, but his effort was cleared off the line.

Ali Al Musrati then forced an excellent stop from Khune with a thunderous drive from 35-yards, while at the other end a smart turn and shot from Percy Tau provided a nervous moment for Nashnush.

Full-back Sifiso Hlanti blazed over the bar in the final minute before halftime as South Africa finally clicked into gear going forward.

Buhle Mkhwanazi headed wide from a corner early in the second half, while Dolly's excellent cross-field pass picked out tau, but the forward was denied a shooting chance by an excellent covering tackle.

Hlatshwayo had to perform a similar last-ditch tackle to deny Saltou a clear sight of goal and Keagan Dolly danced through the Libyan defence but then skied his shot well over the bar.