Khartoum - After watching on as his young Bafana Bafana outfit ran out dominant 3-0 winners against Sudan on Friday, coach Shakes Mashaba surprisingly admitted his preference for playing away from home.
As it happened: Sudan v Bafana Bafana
Second-half replacement Sibusiso Vilakazi scored a stunning brace, while Bongani Ndulula bagged a goal on debut to guide South Africa to the perfect start to their 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualification campaign at Al-Merrikh Stadium in Khartoum.
"People will say I’m trying to boast (but) I prefer playing away than at home. Playing at home is not a luxury,” Mashaba said after his first victory in his first game since being hired for a third term as national coach in July.
"The players are under pressure and there are a lot of things happening.
"If you look at the crowd here, even if the score was 3-0, they’re still cheering for their team and you look at the stands, they were fully packed… which is what we need to start doing at home.”
Despite a difficult first half where South Africa were greeted by a hostile crowd, soaring temperatures and a less than ideal playing surface marred by bumpy patches and grassless ditches, the second period was one to remember as Vilakazi put the game beyond the hosts, before Ndulula applied the finishing touches.
"Things worked according to our plan, though we nearly fluffed it in the first half,” Mashaba added.
"We told the boys that the first 20-30 minutes were going to be tough because they (Sudan) would throw the game at us. Our defence stood very well at the back and the goalkeeper (Senzo Meyiwa) did very well.
"In the last 10 minutes of the first half you could see fatigue was taking its toll on the Sudan team because they doubled their efforts for the first 35 minutes and they couldn’t get a goal.”
With three valuable points in the bag, Mashaba was able to take plenty of positives out of the game.
New skipper Meyiwa kept a clean-sheet, South Africa suffered no major injuries, and the victory puts Bafana in a strong position at the top of the table.
"I’ve been saying that we need to win this game in order to put wheels under our feet, this is a good thing for us to have happened," Mashaba said.
"Going into the Nigeria game, the boys will be confident because some of them never thought they would win here."
The team travelled back to the Khartoum International Airport after the game, where a few technical difficulties delayed their flight, but eventually their charted return to Johannesburg took off at 03:00.
Mashaba’s troops departed for Cape Town just hours after landing from Khartoum ahead of Wednesday’s crucial second qualifier against the Super Eagles on Wednesday evening.