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South Africa 4 : 0 Namibia

South Africa 4:0 Namibia

Themba Zwane scored twice in 16 first-half minutes as South Africa thrashed Namibia to earn their first points of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

Percy Tau, who missed a spot-kick in Bafana Bafana’s opening defeat by Mali, began the rout with an early penalty.

Zwane met Thapelo Morena’s cross with a fierce finish and clipped in his second after an electric run into the box.

Substitute Thapelo Maseko made it four when Lloyd Kazapua failed to handle his strike from Teboho Mokoena’s long ball.

Both teams are guaranteed a place in the last 16 if they win their deciding matches for the knockout stage on Wednesday (17:00 GMT), when South Africa face Tunisia and Namibia meet Mali.

The Brave Warriors can beat the 1996 champions to automatic progression by bettering their result, while either nation will have hope of qualifying as one of the four best third-placed teams if they finish immediately outside of the top two.

Swaggering South Africa off mark in style

Forward Tau took his shot at redemption when referee Youcef Gamouh penalised Riaan Hanamub for handling the ball as he tried to defend a Morena delivery, making his decision following a VAR check.

Morena made an eye-catching run down the right to cut the ball back for Zwane to double the lead, and the 34-year-old added his second in composed style from close range to complete a dazzling first-half attacking display, with Morena having a curling effort tipped over and Sphephelo Sithole contriving to spurn a free header in front of goal.

Namibia had started the game on the attack, Prins Tjiueza forcing a fourth-minute save from Ronwen Williams.

Hanamub, one of 10 players in the underdogs’ squad operating in South African club football, played the ball through the legs of Mothobi Mvala to set up Absalom limbondi with the score at 1-0, but the midfielder sent his shot over the crossbar with the goal gaping.

Soon afterwards, Hanamub sent in another cross which captain Peter Shalulile – a feared striker for South African top-flight team Mamelodi Sundowns – could not connect with.

The pace of the game slowed in the second half, with South Africa happy to sit back against opponents lacking ruthlessness.

Hugo Broos’ players claimed the largest win in their country’s history at the Afcon finals and the widest margin of victory of any of the 24 matches played at the 2023 edition so far.

The only four-goal victory at the 2021 tournament came in a 4-0 win for Tunisia over Mauritania during the group stage.

NAPOLI - BARCELONA