Bafana Bafana finally came good when they beat Africa Cup of Nations runners up Burkina Faso 2-0 in the inaugural Nelson Mandela Sports and Culture Day at FNB Stadium on Saturday.
The win ended a run of two winless matches following the 2-1 loss to Ethiopia in the 2014 World Cup qualifier and 2-0 defeat against African champions Nigeria in the Nelson Mandela Challenge.
It was a well-deserved victory for Bafana who put a performance to be proud of. They dominated from the first whistle and never set a foot wrong but as has become the norm, wasted some glorious chances.
To his credit, coach Gordon Igesund introduced a number of locally-based players and most them showed lots of promise.
A goal on 22 minutes from Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala set the tone for an afternoon to remember for the national team and supporters of both soccer and rugby who descended to the home of soccer for this inaugural event. It was the dreadlocked midfielder’s 12th goal in a Bafana shirt in 81 appearances.
Bafana literally dominated from start to finish and debutant David Mathebula made a run into the box before playing the ball to Parker, who tried to play the quick ball back but DVD was fouled on the edge of the box. The resultant free-kick was deflected for a corner as the hosts showed their intent.
Bafana’s persistence finally paid dividends on 22nd minute following another great attacking move with Mathebula playing the ball to Tshabalala who in turn made a fine turn before firing a low shot that gave the Burkina Faso keeper Mohammed Kabore no chance.
Bafana continued to dominate but missed some clear-cut chances.
Tshabalala missed a sitter in the 66th minute after being set up by Lerato Chabangu as Bafana camped in the visitors’ half.
However, in the 73rd minute, Khune made a fine stop to deny Sango Alassane from a free-kick.
He then launched Bafana into a quick counter attack but Burkina Faso were able to defend well. Marc van Heerden had a go from the loose ball but his effort went over the bar.
The elusive second goal finally arrived in the referee’s optional time when Chabangu made a solo run and he finished with aplomb to give Bafana a deserved win.
It was a great afternoon of sport, where for the first time in the history of South Africa, soccer and rugby were played in the same venue. Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula, who championed the idea, announced that this would become a regular feature in the SA sport calendar.