South Africa will not be attending the 2020 African Nations Championship (Chan) in Cameroon after suffering a 6-2 aggregate defeat to Lesotho on Sunday afternoon.
Bafana Bafana were determined to keep their hopes of qualifying alive when they took to the field on Sunday, looking to overturn a 3-2 deficit conceded in the first leg held last weekend.
Last week's win was Lesotho’s first against their Southern African neighbours in a competitive match and would have given South Africa coach David Notoane a few sleepless nights heading into Sunday's game.
The U23 coach was put in charge of steering South Africa to the tournament but he has had to rely on mostly fringe players with the Premier Soccer League (PSL) taking centre stage.
Notoane, though, was optimistic considering he had in his arsenal players such as veteran Reneilwe Letsholonyane marshalling the midfield and Orlando Pirates striker Zakhele Lepasa leading the line.
But despite the changes in personnel, it was a cagey opening 15 minutes with neither side ready to commit and run the risk of conceding.
The physical encounter even saw Mamelodi Sundowns’ new signing Nyiko Mobbie pick up an early knock but he was able to run it off.
It took South Africa nearly 25 minutes to really test the Lesotho goal.
Kgodiso Monama fired a shot on target but his effort was kept out by Lesotho keeper Monaheng Ramalefane.
At the other end, despite having the likes of Lehlohonolo Fothoane in attack, who was on target in the first leg, Lesotho didn’t really create much going forward, which made for a frustrating opening half.
Nonetheless, the sides headed into the interval goalless.
The scoreline meant the home side needed just one unanswered goal to progress on the away goals rule.
However, the second half belonged to Lesotho’s Jane Ntso, who stole the headlines.
South Africa walked out onto the Dobsonville Stadium pitch looking to up the ante after the break, but it was Lesotho who drew first blood when Ntso struck less than five minutes after the restart, putting his side 4-2 ahead on aggregate.
South Africa then had no choice but to throw caution to the wind in search of the goals needed to progress, but it was not forthcoming, and they left themselves vulnerable at the back.
This saw Lesotho capitalise for a second time on the day as Ntso wrapped up his brace, which all but ended South Africa’s hopes of a 2020 Chan berth.
But the damage was not done just yet as Lesotho then completed the rout thanks to a goal by Hlompho Kalake, who killed off the tie in its entirety and sent Lesotho to the final round of qualifying.