Johannesburg - South Africa will continue their preparations for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations when they face Mali in an international friendly in Libreville, Gabon, on Wednesday.
Kick-off at 18:00.
According to the supersport.com website, Shakes Mashaba’s side played to a 1-1 draw with former Afcon champions Cameroon in an international friendly at the same venue this past Saturday night.
Vincent Aboubakar put the Indomitable Lions ahead with a brilliantly executed free kick early in the game, but a 76th minute equaliser from Sibusiso Vilakazi ensured the game ended all square.
The result saw Bafana Bafana extend their unbeaten record under coach Mashaba to nine games. They could hit double figures when they face Mali in midweek, though the Eagles have proven difficult opponents in the past.
Currently ranked 50th in the world (Bafana are 52nd), Mali are coached by Polish tactician Henryk Kasperczak and had a mixed qualification campaign in which they finished second behind Algeria in their preliminary group.
They will face a tough pool at the 2015 finals in Equatorial Guinea as they pit their strength against regional rivals Ivory Coast, Guinea and Cameroon.
More importantly, the West Africans have performed strongly at the Afcon in recent years, finishing in third place at both the 2012 and 2013 tournaments. This makes them ideal opponents against which South Africa can test their abilities.
Mali and South Africa have faced each other three times (all in continental tournaments) and Bafana have yet to taste victory against the Eagles, who have twice sent them packing from the quarterfinals of the Nations Cup.
Mashaba is looking for an improvement in his team’s finishing abilities in the match against Mali, as they finalise their preparations for their opening Afcon 2015 encounter against Algeria on January 19 in Mongomo.
“We create chances but we don’t finish them off. We planned well, we knew what to expect. They [Cameroon] are a good side, very experienced and hard working. They were all over us in the opening 30 minutes but my boys were very resilient and withstood the pressure and showed great grit. We knew we would come back and come back we did in the second half. The Cameroonians gave us what to expect in Equatorial Guinea,” said Mashaba.
Strikers Bernard Parker and Tokelo Rantie, as well as defender Rivaldo Coetzee sat out training on Monday after picking up knocks in the match against Cameroon, but all three are expected to be available for selection against Mali.
SA v Mali – record and matches
P W D L GF GA
3 0 2 1 1 3
Date Result Competition
03/02/2002 SA 0-2 Mali Afcon finals
02/02/2013 SA 1-1* Mali Afcon finals
15/01/2014 SA 1-1 Mali Chan finals
*Mali won 3-1 on penalties