South Africa held out for a narrow 1-0 win over hosts Tanzania in an international friendly at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Saturday evening. Defender Siyabonga Sangweni scored the game’s only goal just before half time.
After dominating the first half and deservedly taking the lead, Bafana Bafana had to weather a storm from the Taifa Stars in the second stanza. Coach Pitso Mosimane will no doubt be pleased with the result, achieved with a shadow squad made up almost entirely of local players, and at handing ten players their first senior caps in the match.
Bafana handed full international debuts to no less than five players from the start: goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands, defender Siyanda Zwane, midfielder Hlompho Kekana and attacking players Erwin Isaacs and Sifiso Myeni.
The visitors created their first scoring opportunity in the 14th minute. A corner kick from the left flank was completely missed by Tanzania goalkeeper Kaseja Juma and the ball landed at the feet of Siyabonga Sangweni, who strangely looked to pass back into the traffic in the middle of the penalty area rather than shoot at the unguarded goal.
Just past the half hour mark Bafana threatened again, creating two good scoring opportunities in the same move. First, Katlego Mphela provided a fantastic cross from the right flank that found the head of Myeni at the far post, but the youngster had overrun the ball and completely mistimed his effort.
Seconds later the ball arrived back with Myeni – he crossed to the middle of the box for the onrushing Bernard Parker, but the attacker sliced his attempted shot harmlessly off target. In between the two chances Bafana could have been awarded a penalty, as an Erwin Isaacs shot clearly struck the arm of a Taifa Stars defender, but the referee ignored the appeals for a spot kick.
South Africa certainly looked the likelier scorers and finally broke the deadlock just before the half time interval. Again Juma flapped at thin air from a corner kick on the left, but this time Sangweni squeezed home a diving header at the far post to make it 1-0.
The second half saw an improvement on the pedestrian pace of the first 45 minutes, with the hosts looking much livelier in attack. Lanky striker John Bocco saw a header flash agonisingly wide of the target in the 62nd minute, while Bafana centre-backs Morgan Gould and Sangweni were called upon much more often to keep the Taifa Stars’ attack at bay.
Sandilands had a quiet game for the most part, though he was called upon to make a good save in the 83rd minute, palming away an awkward, dipping long range drive from Salum Machaku as the Taifa Stars dialled up the pressure in the dying minutes of the game. The hosts did the get ball in the back of the net through Shaban Nditi a short while later, but he was ruled offside. Bafana made five substitutions in the second half, handing debuts to Thabo Matlaba, Lehlohonolo Majoro, Thandani Ntshumayelo, Erick Mathoho and Prince Hlela.-Backpagepix