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Botha Brace Accounts For Algeria 20/12/03
Two goals inside the opening three minutes from Amaglug-glug debutant Ryan Botha set up an impressive 4-1 win for the South African national U-23 team in their Olympic qualifying game against Algeria at Olympia Park on Saturday afternoon.

The other goals came via the boots of Orlando Pirates duo, Gift Leremi and Bennedict Vilakazi.

Amaglug-glug started like a house on fire when Leremi, who was highly impressive all afternoon, earned the team a penalty when he caused an Algerian defender to handle the ball inside his own box.

Botha stepped up to take the spot-kick and made no mistake, slamming the ball into the corner of the net with his left foot.

Barely a minute later the former SuperSport United striker doubled his tally when he received an excellent through ball from Joseph Makhanya, did well to shrug off a defender and blasted the ball into the top corner, this time with his right foot.

The South Africans were in complete control at this stage and it came as no surprise when they added a third goal in the 15th minute when Leremi added his name to the score-sheet.

The goal was simply executed - Nasief Morris played a brilliant 70-yard ball to Leremi on the left wing. He then drifted inside his marker and rifled a low shot past the Algerian keeper's near post.

The third goal seemed to cause Amaglug-glug to take their foot off the pedal somewhat, which allowed their North Africans opponents to come back into the game.

The home team were lucky not to concede a penalty when sloppy play by Cosmos defender Morgan Gould nearly lead to Morris giving away a spot kick, although with the hindsight of a replay, the referee seemed to of made the right decision in not awarding the penalty.

The Algerians continued to press forward and their persistence was finally awarded in the 45th minute when a flick-on corner was turned in by Ishmael Boozid.

The opening minutes of the second half were failrly even with both side sharing the possession, although it was home keeper Jacob Mokhasi who was the more busy of the two keepers, and indeed it was the Wits number two who repaid coach Conti Kubheka's faith in him by pulling off a string of brilliant saves to keep his team's two goal cushion in tact.

Captain Vilakazi then restored his team's three goal cushion in the 66th minute when he combined with Makhanya before ghosting through the Algerian defence and cooly slotting the ball past the keeper.

The home team held on to their lead for the rest of the game, earning themselves a vital three points in their quest for Olympic qualification.

It was a polished performance by the young guns, which can only bode well for the future, especially considering that players such as Steven Pienaar, Thando Mngomeni and Mabhuti Khanyeza can still be drafted into the squad.


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