Cape Town - South Africa's star long jump duo, Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai, battled their way into the 12-man final at the IAAF World Championships in Doha on Friday.
Manyonga and Samaai took the gold and bronze medals, respectively, at the last world championships in London in 2017 and similar feats were expected from the pair in a Team SA squad desperately short of star quality in Qatar following the withdrawals of Caster Semenya and Wayde van Niekerk.
That foursome were responsible for all six of South Africa's medals in London 24 months ago.
In the qualifying for the long jump at the Khalifa International Stadium, Samaai finished fifth with a leap of 8.01m, while Manyonga flirted with disaster, finishing 10th with 7.91m, well short of his personal best of 8.65m.
Only one athlete, Cuba's Juan Miguel Echevarria, recorded the automatic qualifying distance of 8.15m when he sailed to an impressive 8.40m.
Echevarria, the standout jumper in this year's Diamond League series, will be the overwhelming favourite for the gold medal in Saturday's final which is set to start at 17:40 SA time.