Bafana Bafana

Bafana edge past Costa Rica

Andile Jali (Getty Images)
Andile Jali (Getty Images)

Cape Town - An early goal from Andile Jali saw Bafana Bafana claim a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in an international friendly at the National Stadium in San Jose on Friday morning.

‘Los Ticos’, placed a full 31 positions higher than Bafana Bafana on FIFA’s world rankings, enjoyed the majority of possession but lacked a cutting edge in attack, while Shakes Mashaba’s side created the better scoring opportunities.

Itumeleng Khune, who was guilty of a major error which gifted a goal to Mauritania in South Africa’s 3-1 loss in an AFCON qualifier last month, handed Costa Rica a scoring opportunity in the third minute with a poor piece of distribution, but he quickly redeemed himself by saving from Joel Campbell.

After that early scare, Bafana settled down well and opened the scoring nine minutes into the match, with Andile Jali winning the ball in midfield before playing a one-two with Thulani Serero and chipping the ball past goalkeeper Keylor Navas for the second international goal of his career.

In the absence of a recognised striker (Tokelo Rantie, Prince Nxumalo and Thamsanqa Gabuza were all ruled out of the match for various reasons), Sibusiso Vilakazi played as the visitors’ spearhead in attack. ‘Vila’ is not a natural centre-forward, but he battled gamely and was supported by the willingness of Mandla Masango, George Lebese and Thulani Serero to run beyond him when in possession.

Danish-based forward Marco Urena looked to bring Costa Rica level in the 26th minute when he showed a burst of pace to get past Rivaldo Coetzee, but his low shot was comfortably saved by Khune. This proved to be the hosts’ last notable effort on goal the first half, with Bafana’s defence – though shaky at times – generally able to cope with whatever was thrown at them.

South Africa should have doubled their lead in the 57th minute when Masango and Vilakazi combined to put Serero in on goal, but the Ajax Amsterdam player was unable to beat Navas from a tight angle.

It was a similar story at the other end in the 65th minute when a quickly taken free kick from Costa Rica gave Urena a sight of goal, but his effort from an acute angle was punched over the top of the goal by Khune.

Celso Borges almost brought the home side level in the 87th minute when he went for goal from a free kick just outside the penalty area, but his effort flashed just wide of Khune’s left-hand upright. It was as close as Costa Rica came to an equaliser.

South Africa will complete their Central American tour with a match against Honduras on October 14.

Costa Rica: 0

South Africa: (1) 1 (Jali 9’)

Costa Rica XI: Navas, Duarte, Acosta, Calvo (Aguilar 55’), Gamboa, Oviedo, Borges, Venegas (Colindres 61’), Tejeda (Guzman 73’), Urena (Matarrita 90’), Campbell

Bafana Bafana XI: Khune, Ngcongca, Coetzee, Mathoho, Lebusa (Mashaba 59’), Masango, Zungu, Jali, Lebese (Hlatshwayo 78’), Serero (Patosi 87’), Vilakazi (Mokotjo 70’)

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England 219
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