There was joy and despair in equal measure in Group E at the Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday as Namibia claimed a stunning 1-0 victory over powerhouse Tunisia, but South Africa missed a first half penalty to slip to 2-0 loss to Mali.
Bafana defeated by Mali in opening AFCON match.
— Bafana Bafana (@BafanaBafana) January 16, 2024
Namibia’s win was their first ever at the continental finals and was fully deserved as they spurned numerous opportunities to defeat the third-ranked Tunisians by a larger margin.
A goal from Orlando Pirates’ Deon Hotto proved the difference as he stooped to head home.
“It’s an ecstatic feeling that I can’t describe,” Namibia coach Collin Benjamin said. “I am proud to be Namibian and be a coach of these players. We were never really given a chance.
“We are just happy that we could go on the field and play a good match and win. I can only imagine what is happening in the streets of Namibia right now. This victory is dedicated to them.”
A point from their next two games should be enough for a round of 16 places, though in the last two editions three points has seen sides advance as one of the four best third-placed teams. Benjamin knows there is still work to do.
“Of course, we celebrate, but tomorrow it is back to normal. Back to grinding and working hard as a team and for our people back home,” he said.
Percy Tau missed a first half penalty for South Africa as they were the better side in the opening period against Mali but were outmuscled after the break and slipped to a loss that has them on the back foot after game one.
Despite this, Broos was positive about his team as they prepare to face Namibia in a crucial second fixture on Sunday.