SOUTH Africa were fortunate to be given a penalty, and even more fortunate not to concede a penalty, as they laboured to a disappointing 1-1 draw against Mali in their second Caf African Nations Championship (Chan) Group A clash at Cape Town Stadium yesterday. Bafana had taken the lead in the first half through a controversial Bernard Parker penalty, but they were brought back down to earth after 55 minutes when a cracking effort from Ibourahima Sidibé brought the scores level. Coach Gordon Igesund had made four changes from the side that defeated Mozambique in Saturday’s tournament opener, with no less than eight of South Africa’s 16 PSL clubs represented in the starting 11. Wits workhorse Matthew Pattison replaced Lerato Chabangu in central midfield, while Pietermaritzburg-born Bryce Moon lost out to Vuyo Mere at right fullback. Up front, Chiefs-bound Edward Manqele kept out Katlego Mashego and Sibusiso Vilakazi was replaced by lively Platinum Stars winger Lindokuhle Mbatha. Igesund had spoken before the match of the physicality of the Malians, and Bafana captain Itumeleng Khune had his lip split open in the 10th minute when he took out Abdoulaye Sissoko in a moment that had the away side — victorious in their first match of the competition against Nigeria — screaming for a penalty. Replays showed that the visitors had a case as a charging Khune missed the ball before crashing into Sissoko. Siphiwe Tshabalala played in an unexpected central role in the first half, and was Bafana’s liveliest player in the opening stages as the smaller home side started to grab a firmer hold on the game. Mbatha, causing havoc on the right flank, infuriated the already incensed Malians further when he was tripped by defender Souleymane Konate on 22 minutes. Replays indicated that the contact had happened outside of the area, but the Cameroonian referee pointed to the spot and the Malians were irate. With the situation heated, Chiefs striker Parker was the coolest man in the stadium as he drilled his penalty past a helpless Soumaïla Diakité in Mali’s goal to put Bafana 1-0 up in front of an abysmally small Cape Town crowd. It was Parker’s third goal of the tournament. The period that followed was as tight as before the goal, and the bigger West Africans continued to make life difficult for Bafana in the physical exchanges. Khune was rarely threatened, but with three minutes remaining before the end of the first half it should have been 1-1 after a moment of defensive madness from Hlompho Kekana. The Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder failed to clear a cross and the ball sat up perfectly for Sissoko, but his powerful effort was cannoned into the left hand upright. The second stanza started in the same aggressive nature as the first, and Mali would not have to wait long before they were back level. A long ball from keeper Diakite had the Bafana defence all at sea and, when they failed to clear their lines, Sidibé was first to react as he buried the ball past a motionless Khune. Bafana would have a couple of decent chances through Parker, but their final pass always seemed to be lacking. This coupled with their shaky defence meant that for large portions of the half the game was in the balance, but there were to be no further goals in a result that favours Mali most. Bafana play Nigeria in Cape Town on Sunday in their final group clash, while Mali take on lowly Mozambique.