Bafana Bafana rounded off their preparations for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2015 with a fine display as they dismantled Mali 3-0 at Stade Monedan in Libreville, Gabon on Wednesday.
It was an inspired performance as it addressed some of the concerns that the Bafana Bafana technical team had in the build-up to the 2015 African showpiece.
Goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane got his first start in a Bafana Bafana jersey ahead of Brilliant Khuzwayo, who was in goals against Cameroon while Darren Keet was first choice against Zambia.
Defender Siyabonga Nhlapho, the only newcomer at the back, was given a run at right-back, while Anele Ngcongca moved to central defence alongside Thulani Hlatshwayo. Thabo Matlaba retained his place at left-back. Rivaldo Coetzee was rested as he is nursing a knee injury.
Evenly balanced match
Bafana Bafana went into the break with a 1-0 lead thanks to a headed goal by Thulani Hlatshwayo in the 36th minute. Striker Bongani Ndulula was brought down on the edge of the box and Mandla Masango whipped in a fine free-kick into the box, which was headed in by Tyson.
The Bafana Bafana technical team would have been impressed with the display in the first half as it addressed concerns from the last couple of matches.
It was an evenly balanced match though with both keepers having little if anything to do.
Moving up a gear
Bafana Bafana had a chance on 20th minute as Dean Furman laid a pass through in the middle channel on the path of Vilakazi but Mali were quick to clear the danger.
Then Mali launched an attack on the 21st minute with Yacouba Sylla’s shot going just over the bar. Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane was tested by a low shot from Ahmed Doumbia on 31st min as Mali went on the prowl but Doumbia’s effort went just wide.
As has been part of their game recently, Bafana Bafana moved up a gear in the second half as the heat of Libreville subsided. An indication of what lay in store for Mali came on the 63rd minute as Ndulula goal-bound shot was cleared off the line by Mohamed Konate. That followed a great run and a fine pass by Matlaba from the left. The Malians responded moments later but their effort hit the woodwork.
Bafana Bafana tightened their grip on the match on the 82nd minute with a fine goal from Sibusiso Vilakazi. It could have been 3-0 two minutes later but Mali managed to avert danger. Well Bafana Bafana were done with the Malians five minutes before the final whistle when midfielder Dean Furman made it 3-0.
It was a magnificent performance by the South Africans as they head to Equatorial Guinea for the 2015 Afcon. It was also a personal milestone for coach Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba as he went 10 games without defeat since taking over last August.
How they lined up – SA XI vs Mali:
Jackson Mabokgwane (GK), Siyabonga Nhlapho, Thabo Matlaba, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Anele Ngcongca, Dean Furman, Andile Jali (C), Mandla Masango, Thuso Phala, Bongani Ndulula, Sibusiso Vilakazi.
Subs: Darren Keet (GK), Brilliant Khuzwayo (GK), Ayanda Gcaba, Eric Mathoho, Thamsanqa Sangweni, Themba Zwane, Oupa Manyisa, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Bongani Zungu, Bernard Parker.
Not in match-day squad due to injury: Tokelo Rantie, Rivaldo Coetzee.
– SA Football Association
Source : SouthAfrica.info