Bafana Bafana

'Proud' Helman Mkhalele applauds Bafana Bafana young guns' second-half performance

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Helman Mkhalele (Gallo Images)
Helman Mkhalele (Gallo Images)
  • Bafana Bafana produced a heroic second-half performance against Uganda to ensure they remain unbeaten against the Cranes.
  • Assistant coach Helman Mkhalele was elated with the victory, especially after a troublesome week that saw six players withdraw from the squad.
  • South Africa will only be back in action when they take on Zimbabwe and Ghana in September when the 2022 World Cup qualifiers kick off.

Bafana Bafana assistant coach Helman Mkhalele praised the second-half performance of a young starting XI that clinched a 3-2 win over Uganda at Orlando Stadium on Thursday.

AS IT HAPPENED | Bafana Bafana 3-2 Uganda

The victory was a much-needed morale-booster following a week where six players withdrew from the squad due to positive Covid-19 tests and injuries.

On top of that, assistant coach Cedomir Janevski tested positive for Covid-19 as newly appointed head coach Hugo Broos was back in Belgium waiting on his second vaccination jab before taking on his duties permanently in South Africa.

Speaking to the media after the match, Mkhalele was at a loss for words but revealed how proud he was of the players given the tough week they experienced.

"During the first-half we really struggled in the central midfield. That is where the Ugandans, especially number 10 (Allan Okello) and number eight (Shafik Kagimu), they were able to build from the back and penetrate us so easily, and I attribute that to a lack of experience to our boys because they were nervous," said Mkhalele.

"More importantly, we didn't have any friendly games to make sure that we build those combinations for our team because we had two training sessions with almost eleven players that never played together before. So, I believe that first-half it contributed for us not being able to manage the game quite actively.

"We didn't dominate the first half, but they were not hurting us much because they were just dominating the possession in their own half. So, when they went forward, they couldn't create chances except for the one that they scored."

South Africa found themselves a goal down at the end of the first stanza when Ibrahim Orit beat Craig Martin to the ball to head it beyond Ronwen Williams's reach.

After playing 45 minutes with an unfamiliar 3-4-3 formation, a tactical switch by Mkhalele, who then reverted to a 4-3-3 formation and introduced the in-form Thabiso Kutumela from Maritzburg United and Evidence Makgopa of Baroka FC, Bafana Bafana started to find comfort on the ball.

It took Kutumela and Makgopa just 15 minutes to find their rhythm to help the home side equalise, with Makgopa finding the back of the net on his senior national debut.

Minutes later, Bongokuhle Hlongwane gave Bafana the lead as he too scored on debut before Makgoba completed his brace and the defining match-winning goal.

"Second-half, first and foremost, we had to change our formation, and after changing our formation, we changed the personnel to help make sure that they don't build from the back.

"We put high pressure on them at the back because once we win the ball, we'll regain possession in their own half.

"I am so proud, you know, even though we could have scored more goals, but I am so proud that we took our chances."

The encounter against the Cranes will be South Africa's only friendly match before they take on Zimbabwe and Ghana in September when the 2022 World Cup qualifiers start.

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