Bernard Parker netted twice and a spectacular goal from Hlompho Kekana saw Bafana Bafana come back from a goal down to get their African Nations Championship (Chan) group A opener off to a winning start with a 3-1 victory over Mozambique in Cape Town on Saturday evening.
The home side went behind early, as Mozambique's Diogo Alberto silenced the Cape Town Stadium with a soft strike which goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune failed to keep out. Shortly before the interval, Parker put the teams level from the penalty spot, before Kekana scored a long-range stinger, to help South Africa toward all three points. Parker sealed his brace seven minutes from the end, as the Mambas were brushed aside, sending South Africa on their way to the perfect start to their Chan campaign.
"We scored three goals and that's what we needed to do today," Bafana coach Gordon Igesund said after the game. "We created chances. We always looked like we were going to score a goal after they [Mozambique] scored. I was very confident … I told my players at half-time, 'we're going to go and score two or three more goals in this game' … I think it's very exciting that we're creating so many chances."
Parker carved out an early opportunity for the hosts when Lerato Chabangu stole possession in a dangerous position, but goalkeeper Soares Soares made a simple stop to deny the home side. Mozambique, however, were in the mood to spoil South Africa's party, as Diogo's tame effort caught skipper Khune off guard. The Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper slipped on the wet turf as the ball took a deflection, handing the visitors the early advantage as the ball bobbled over the goal-line.
Bafana came back strongly and Sibusiso Vilakazi forced a superb stop from Soares after the powerful midfielder rose well and guided his headed effort toward goal.
"They gave us a battle today, they gave us a good fight," Igesund said. "In my humble opinion, I think we were far the better team on the day. We scored some lovely goals and we had full control of the match for 90 minutes."
Katlego Mashego grazed the crossbar from a freekick on 25 minutes, before Lerato Chabangu sent his effort high of the mark, as South Africa continued to push for the equaliser. The pressure eventually told and a minute later Vilakazi was brought down inside the area and was awarded a penalty for his efforts. Parker dispatched the ball into the right of goal, sending Soares the wrong way.
It was all going South Africa's way, save for the finishing touch, as Mashego struck the upright and was denied a superb finish, following some eye-catching interplay in the middle of the park. Mashego was in with a good chance seconds after the break, but Soares got in the way, as the home side looked to pick up where they had left off in the opening period.
Bafana would have to wait a quarter-of-an-hour for their next attempt, but it was worth the wait as Kekana's wonder-goal from 30 yards away stunned the Mambas and handed South Africa the vital advantage. Kekana picked up a pass from debutant Lindokuhle Mbatha, trotted ahead and unleashed a contender for goal-of-the-tournament as the ball sailed into the back of the net.
Parker wrapped-up it up 10 minutes from the end when he finished off a solid build-up in midfield, scoring his second of the night and fourth against the Mozambicans in his last two outings. – Sapa