South Africa were left frustrated as a well-organised Gambia defence remained resolute to earn a goalless draw in their opening game of Africa Cup of Nations qualifying in Durban.
Bafana Bafana were expected to record a straightforward victory in Group M against a Gambia side who have never played in an AFCON finals, but a lack of quality in the final third cost them dearly.
After the match was delayed for four hours due to the match officials failing to arrive in the country in time for kick-off, it was Gambia who posed an early threat.
The hosts, though, dealt with that initial pressure and they quickly took control – in-form Orlando Pirates striker Thamsanqa Gabuza seeing an early shot saved.
Ayanda Patosi was off target with a free-kick soon afterwards, and South Africa were nearly made to pay for their profligacy when goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune and Thabo Matlaba were forced to keep a rare Gambia attack at bay.
At the other end, Bafana Bafana continued to struggle to find a way through the well-drilled Gambia defence, although Thuso Phala should have done better when gifted with a chance.
The midfielder found the ball at his feet after Gabuza’s volley had been parried, but he was unable to get any power in his shot.
South Africa continued to push forward after the break but Patosi wasted another effort before Siphelele Ntshangase spurned the clearest chance of the all in the closing minutes.
The Black Leopards midfielder beat the offside trap perfectly but his curling effort drifted the wrong side of the post.
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