Three goals in the second stanza from defender and captain Thulani Hlatshwayo (49th minute), debutant striker Thabo Mnyamane (51st minute) as well as second half substitute Mandla Masango (86th minute) were enough to give Bafana Bafana a convincing 3-1 win over a determined Swaziland side. The international friendly match was played at the Somhlolo Stadium on Wednesday, 25 March. Felix Badenhorst grabbed the consolation goal for the hosts.
South Africa head coach Shakes Mashaba started the match with four players who were making their debut in Bafana Bafana colours – Mnyamane, defenders Thapelo Morena and Daniel Cardoso and also midfielder Cole Alexander. He added two more new caps when he introduced Siphelele Ntshangase and Lebogang Phiri for Lehlohonolo Majoro and Kamohelo Mokotjo respectively. Mashaba is happy with the victory but has some concerns.
The Bafana Bafana mentor said: ‘We knew this was going to happen, and that is why I indicated earlier on that it is not going to be easy. If you play countries like these, you just become a motivating factor to them. They really came at us and the goal they scored – my defence did not do well, we should have defended better. It’s a good result to take to Mpumalanga (to face Nigeria) and hopefully it rubs off positively. These are two different games, so you cannot take what happened in Swaziland to Mpumalanga because it is going to be a tough game as well. We will do our best. You will remember that they still have a score to settle with us, they will come spitting fire but we are ready for them.’ Mashaba was also not impressed with the first half performance of his players. Mashaba said: ‘At the break we told them to shake themselves up because they were shadows of themselves in the first half. Yes we had possession and made many passes but we were not playing forward, just going sideways and backwards. With a strong opposition we will find ourselves in trouble when we do that.’
He also explained why he took off Majoro in the first half: ‘It was not a question of me being happy or not, he never exerted himself, he let the other striker play alone in that area, he never competed for high balls and his first touch was not good so we didn’t want to leave him longer, we decided to give him a break and maybe with another game he will be much better.’ The match also saw the return of Itumeleng Khune in the Bafana Bafana line-up for the first time since January last year when he played against Mali in the CAF CHAN tournament played in Cape Town. He has been recovering from an injury.
Khune said: ‘It was great for me to come back and play the first half, it really feels good to be back. In that stanza, Swaziland came very hard at us but we managed to contain them and we were disciplined. So it was a great performance overall. It was great preparation for the Nigeria clash. It is always great before you play another big match, you get such a result as it builds confidence.’
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