BAFANA Bafana rose to the challenge when they held the number one ranked nation on the continent, Cote d’Ivoire, to a 1-1 draw in the 17th edition of the Nelson Mandela Challenge. The match was played at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth this past Saturday.
Bafana did not start well when an own goal was awarded to the Cote d’Ivoire side from defender Siboniso Gaxa, eight minutes before the half time whistle, left the home side trailing one nil at the break. Gaxa had just come on for the injured Tsepo Masilela.
But Mamelodi Sundowns striker Katlego Mphela responded with a well-taken free kick that the Cote d’Ivoire goalkeeper could only watch sail into the net nine minutes into the second half.
This was Mphela’s 22nd goal for his country in 44 appearances.
With this result, the West Africans haven’t defeated South Africa in five meetings, where now four were drawn with one win for Bafana Bafana.
The visitors were using the match to fine tune their side for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations tournament which will be played in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon in January.
“As I had said earlier this was going to be a very high level match that needed full concentration, and it turned out that way. It was a kind of encounter that kept one on the edge, it was very physical and could have gone either way but my players came to the party. We did well and showed what we can play well against the best, but we are not there yet, not convincing enough. At the end it was a credible performance and I think we redeemed ourselves to give the country what it deserves,” said Bafana Bafana head coach Pitso Mosimane.
The draw meant the two nations share the trophy.
South Africa next faces Zimbabwe in an international friendly match which will be played at the Rufaro Stadium in Harare. It will take place on Tuesday, 15 November. Kickoff is at 7pm.
Mosimane has decided not to take all 28 players that were in camp, leaving out Kagisho Dikgacoi, Mphela, captain Steven Pienaar, Tsepo Masilela, Anele Ngcongca, Siyabonga Sangweni and Reneilwe Letsholonyane. Granwald Scott will also miss the trip after failing to recover from an injury.
“It is clear I will be giving new caps in this match as I want to see what some of the youngsters can do. The advantage is that most of the Zimbabwe players play in the PSL so my players would not be intimidated. I want to win the match but the most important thing is to see the new players, give them a chance and let’s see what we have,” said Mosimane.-Safa.net