Bafana outclassed by Zambia
Isaac Chansa and Lerato Chabangu (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana were given a lesson in just how tough the upcoming African Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament will be when they were beaten 1-0 in the Nelson Mandela Challenge (NMC) by reigning African champions Zambia at FNB Stadium on Wednesday night.
PSL-based striker Collins Mbesuma scored the only goal of the game just after the hour mark, handing Chipolopolo a victory which serves as revenge for their 2-1 loss in the inaugural NMC match back in 1994. It is Bafana Bafana’s first home loss since they were beaten by the USA in the NMC in 2010.
The first half saw little in the way of goalmouth action, as the teams struggled to create clear scoring chances on a pitch which was well below its usual high standards due to a rock concert staged at the venue this past weekend.Gallery: Bafana v Zambia
Video: South Africa v Zambia
After a relatively bright start from South Africa, Zambia took control of the game and began to threaten with long range shots and set pieces, though goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune
managed to keep them at bay without having to stretch too much.
South Africa did suffer one major disappointment within the first 30 minutes when striker Tokelo Rantie
was forced off with a knee injury (he was replaced by Katlego Mashego
), while the hosts ended the half with Premiership leading goal-scorer Bernard Parker
also struggling with a knock.
Parker made way at the start of the second half for in-form SuperSport United striker Kermit Erasmus
, while another attacker who has impressed this season, Platinum Stars’ Thuso Phala, made his debut when he replaced Sifiso Myeni
in the 52nd minute.
However, it was a Zambia substitute, Mbesuma from Orlando Pirates, who broke the deadlock in the 64th minute with a fierce drive that ripped into the top corner of the net and gave Khune no chance whatsoever.
Former Moroka Swallows striker James Chamanga should have doubled Chipolopolo’s advantage 10 minutes later when Thabo Nthethe
missed a cross from the left flank, but the substitute missed the target from close range.
On 77 minutes Ricardo Nunes
provided an excellent delivery from a corner kick that had the beating of Kennedy Mweene and picked out Erasmus at the far post, but the youngster was unable to get over his header and directed his effort high and wide.
Three minutes later Delron Buckley
earned his 73rd Bafana Bafana cap by coming off the bench to replace Dean Furman
- it was the Maritzburg United player’s first national team appearance since playing against Sierra Leone in a World Cup qualifier in 2008.
Zambia should have had a chance to extend their lead late on when Mbesuma was tripped up in the penalty area by Bafana captain Bongani Khumalo
, but Swaziland referee Simanga Nhleko didn’t point to the spot.
The hosts almost took advantage in the last minute of regulation time when Erasmus had a shooting chance in the box, only to be denied by an excellent save from Mweene, while Mashego was unable to capitalise on the rebound.