Goals from Themba Zwane and Dean Furman fired Bafana Bafana to a 2-1 win over Mali in the Nelson Mandela Challenge on Sunday to hand Molefi Ntseki his first win as head coach in his first game.
In what was Bafana’s first game since the Africa Cup of Nations, Ntseki had a number of injuries to deal with as Percy Tau, Lebo Mothiba and Bongani Zungu all missed the encounter due to injury
The absentees meant that Bradley Grobler, Thulani Serero, Keagan Dolly, Thapelo Morena and Erick Mathoho all came into start under the new coach.
Mali, who had a strong showing at Afcon 2019, were looking to come to South Africa and spoil the party in Port Elizabeth.
The game started at a frenetic pace with the visitors coming close to opening the scoring in the ninth minute as Hadi Sacko forced Ronwen Williams into full stretch save with his effort from distance.
After showing pieces of good play, Bafana eventually opened the scoring with 24 minutes gone when Thulani Serero was brought down in the box, allowing Dean Furman to step up and fire his effort home.
The home side then suffered a blow as Keagan Dolly limped off with five minutes remaining in the half. His replacement Themba Zwane, however, made an immediate impact as he rounded off a sweeping move with a well-placed shot at the near post following a pass from Thembinkhosi Lorch.
2-0 at the break with the home side seemingly in control.
Mali came out fired up in the second half and despite showing some intent to get forward the final ball was letting them down.
Both teams struggled to find a rhythm as the coaches turned to the substitutes bench looking to change the dynamic of the game.
But it was the away side who adjusted better and pulled a goal back in the 75th minute when Sekou Koita fired a low shot past Darren Keet in the Bafana goal.
Mali then attempted a couple of long-range shots, whereas Bafana looked to control the possession and tempo of the game heading into the final stages.
South Africa in the end held onto their lead to claim a 2-1 victory and win the Nelson Mandela Challenge.
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