Bafana Bafana gave new head coach Molefi Ntseki a winning start with a 2-1 victory over Mali in the Nelson Mandela Challenge on Sunday afternoon.
Bafana were without the services of Percy Tau and Lebogang Mothiba, but there were returns for Bradley Grobler, Eric Mathoho, Keagan Dolly, Thulani Serero and Thapelo Morena in defence and attack.
Molefi Ntseki’s first assignment got off to a slow start as Mali threatened a tenth minute but Ronwen Williams saved the day with a powerful block. Grobler got a better chance three minutes later after being left unmarked in the area, but the forward dragged the effort well wide of target.
Bafana received a life line at the halfway mark after Serero went down in the area. Dean Furman stepped up and calmly finished into the bottom corner.
The Malians stretched the home side from far and wide with balls to and around the channels, but captain Thulani Hlatshwayo led from the front with strong interventions.
Bafana ended the half with a substitution as Themba Zwane replaced Dolly, who limped off the park following a knock. Zwane announced his entry with a telling low finish on the stroke of halftime after a one-touch move involving Thembinkosi Lorch.
Bafana made another change at halftime as Darren Keet replaced Williams between the sticks, and was quickly brought action tipping Idrissa Coulibaly’s attempt behind.
Ntseki’s men went on the attack too but Lorch failed to rattle their opposite number with a wayward header from the near post.
Mali halved the lead in the final 15 minutes with a simple finish from Sekou Koita as the South Africans failed to hold their guard.
Bafana aimed to regain their two-goal cushion, but Zwane in particular proved wasteful in front of goal as the match concluded.