South Africa (1) 2
Ivory Coast 0
LOOKKS like anything Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba touches these days turns into gold.
Bafana produced one of the most thrilling performances at Mbombela Stadium to win the Nelson Mandela Challenge on a cool Sunday afternoon as coach Shakes Mashaba continue to produce gem after gem.
The new-look squad that put the Ivoirians to sword in this 2010 World Cup stadium will further put Mashaba in a quandary when he names his final squad for Equatorial Guinea 2015 late next month.
In fact two goals by Bongani Zungu and David Zulu do not tell the entire story as Bafana were so rampant the score-line could have easily moved into double figures.
But the good crowd that congregated at Mbombela Stadium left the cauldron happy that they had received their money’s worth as this end to end stuff kept fans on the edge of their seats throughout the 90 minutes.
Bafana started this Nelson Mandela Challenge like a house on fire and had the ball in the back of the net in the opening minutes but their effort was ruled offside following a good run by Zungu.
Replays however, showed it was a close call by the officials.
Zulu then thumped a ferocious shot that went over the bar as South Africa upped the tempo in the opening minutes of the game to set the tone for the remainder of the encounter.
So dominant were South Africa that they literally ran rings around the visitors who hardly fashioned their own attacks.
It continued to be one-way traffic as Bafana enjoyed lots of possession but the goal seemed elusive.
Vuyisile Wana was proving a really find of the squad as he continued to cause havoc on the left flank but most of his crosses found no takers.
With Ivory Coast content sitting back and hardly creating their own chances it was going to be a question of time before Bafana found the net.
And they did so on the 31st minute through Zungu whose crisp shot gave Cisse Karim in goals for the visitors no chance to make it 1-0.
The goal forced the visitors to come out of their shell and forced their first corner kick on the 38th minute before fashioning another dangerous attack but the new Bafana defence was always on top of their game.
On the 40th minute, Themba Zwane came face to face with the keeper but was foiled when he was about to shoot.
Bafana looked full value of their 1-0 lead at half time but with good fortune, could have been comfortably in the lead by the end of 45 minutes.
The second half started with the Ivorians eager to get stuck in with some robust tackles but were soon 2-0 down when Zulu scored into an empty net with a cheeky finish.
In what will go down as one of the most impressive Nelson Mandela Challenge matches, Bafana continued to toy with the Ivorians as they created chances at regular intervals.
Substitute Lerato Lamula was close on the 65th minute but the visitors were always looking dangerous on counter attacks.
Lamola was close again in the 75th minute but he was unfortunate that his goal bound shot found the legs of Ivorian defender who stopped what looked like a third goal.
Bafana Bafana starting IX vs Cote d’Ivoire: Jackson MABOKGWANE (GK), Siyabonga NHLAPHO, Patrick PHUNGWAYO, Christopher KOMANE, Kwanda MNGONYAMA, Thamsanqa SANGWENI (C), Bongani ZUNGU, Themba ZWANE, Vuyisile WANA, Puleng TLOLANE, David ZULU
SA SUBS: Dumisani MSIBI (GK), Abbubaker MOBARA, Ntsikelelo NYAUZA, Asavela MBEKILE, Fagrie LAKAY, Lerato LAMOLA, Siyanda NGUBO