Bafana on fire ahead of Afcon opener

2015-01-15 00:00

BAFANA Bafana finished off their 2015 Africa Cup of Nations preparations with an impressive 3-0 win over Mali at the Stade Monedan in Libreville, Gabon, yesterday.

Thulani Hlatshwayo, Sibusiso ­Vilakazi and Dean Furman netted a goal apiece as South Africa kept their unbeaten record under Shakes ­Mashaba intact heading into the African showpiece.

The game started at a slow pace given the extreme heat and bumpy pitch with long grass.

Both sides seemed to stand off the ball and not commit to many tackles inside the opening 10 minutes.

There were no genuine scoring chances created in the opening 20 minutes as both sides just felt each other out and at this stage there were a few niggling tackles going in from either side.

The Eagles went close through ­Ahmed Doumbia just shy of the half-hour mark with the Toulouse midfielder forcing Jackson Mabokgwane into a save from range before firing a second effort just wide of goal a few moments later.

Despite Mali’s dominance in the opening exchanges, it was Bafana Bafana who opened the scoring in the 37th minute. Masango’s free-kick found Hlatshwayo, who headed past Soumeila Diakite to net his first goal for his country.

Bongani Ndulula had a golden opportunity to double South Africa’s lead in the 63rd minute. Thabo ­Matlaba burst down the left flank before setting up the AmaZulu forward who beat Diakite, but not Mohamed Konate, who produced an excellent goal line clearance.

Vilakazi continued his scoring run for Bafana, latching onto a one-two with Andile Jali before rounding the Mali keeper and slotting to an open net with 82 minutes on the clock.

Furman wrapped things up for ­Mashaba’s troops three minutes later, guiding the ball into the back of the at the second bite of the cherry to secure South Africa’s first win over Mali in four attempts.

SA face Algeria in their opening game on Monday.

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