South Africa completed a record 6-0 victory over hapless Seychelles in their Africa Cup of Nations Group E qualifier at a sodden FNB Stadium on Saturday to stay firmly on track for next year’s finals.
Bafana Bafana will be satisfied with their showing, the biggest ever win for the national side, but in truth might have easily had double the number of goals were it not for some wasteful finishing and the superb saves of Seychelles goalkeeper Romeo Barra.
Bafana move up to seven points from their three matches to head the pool, with Nigeria (three points) and Libya (four) in action later on Saturday.
An own goal from Ronny Hoareau set the home side on their way, before Thulani Hlatshwayo, Lebo Mothiba, Percy Tau, Dino Ndlovu and Teboho Mokoena netted for the hosts.
It was just the kind of win that coach Stuart Baxter needs after coming under increasing pressure, though he will contextualise the result with the knowledge that the opposition is arguably the poorest among all the qualification hopefuls.
The teams will meet again on Tuesday in Victoria in what could be a tougher test for Bafana on an artificial surface that they have previously found difficult to manage.
Aubrey Modiba had the first opening when he put a header over the ball from the edge of the six-yard box, though he appeared to get a push from behind that was not spotted by South Sudan referee Ring Malong.
Percy Tau had a more difficult headed chance shortly afterwards and did well to climb high, but the ball sailed just over the bar.
Tau came closer with a superb free-kick that struck the crossbar, an unlucky outcome from a fine set-piece, while right-back Rama Mphahlele was inches away from converting from left-back Sifiso Hlanti’s cross.
It was the chance of Lebo Mothiba to be denied from a Hlanti delivery, but this time Seychelles goalkeeper Barra saved, before he then denied Lebohang Maboe from range.
Bafana finally hit the from on 23 minutes and it was an own goal from Hoareau, who headed past his keeper from Hlatshwayo’s header across the goal.
Two minutes later and Hlatshwayo had a goal of his own as he powered a header past Barra from Modiba’s excellent corner.
Mothiba got in on the act as Maboe set him up in the box, before the Strasbourg striker took a touch to take the ball away from the defender before firing into the top corner from 16 yards.
Tau forced a good save from Barra just before half-time, but the home side had to be content with their 3-0 lead when they might have scored at least double that number.
Tau struck the crossbar early in the second half, though he was adjudged offside, one of a number of dubious decisions from the match officials who did not have a good day in the office.
The Royale Union Saint-Gilloise forward was then denied again by Barra when he was put in acres of space on the left, and after that blasted over with a wild effort in what was a poor day in front of goal for the striker.
It was Mothiba’s turn to be denied by Barra as the keeper raced off his line to save a one-on-one chance, before the Seychelles man kept out a low drive from Modiba.
Finally, Tau found the back of the net after he was superbly set up by Mothiba, rounding Barra before finishing from a tight angle.
The fifth came with 10 minutes remaining as Ndlovu had all the time in the world to beat Barra as the South African forwards queued up to score, the China-based forward netting his first international goal in his sixth cap.
The record win was completed in injury-time when substitute Teboho Mokoena headed home an inviting cross from Kamohelo Mokotjo for what was also his first international goal.