Bafana Bafana produced an impressive attacking performance to defeat Burkina Faso 2-0 in a Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day clash at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon.
The match was watched by, among others, former Presidents FW de Klerk, Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe.
Coach Gordon Igesund made five changes to the starting eleven from the team that went down to Nigeria on Wednesday, with Bafana's overseas-based players having returned abroad. He would have been happy with what he saw from the South African-based line-up.
Man of the match
Man of the match Siphiwe Tshabalala was super industrious for the home side and was rewarded with an excellent goal, while Bongani Zungu made an impressive debut alongside him, as did Marc van Heerden, at the back.
From the start of the contest, Bafana Bafana took the game to the Africa Cup of Nations' runners-up, controlling possession and moving up and down the field more effectively as a unit than their red and green clad opponents.
Yet, a goal in stoppage time by substitute Luyolo Nomandela was needed to secure the victory. If there was one criticism one could level against South Africa it was that they should have finished better. They took many shots, but far too many of them failed to find the target.
"They could have scored more, but I'm happy they are creating chances," Igesund said about his charges afterwards.
Playing in front of a festive crowd, Bafana began well, putting the Burkinabe under early pressure. Reneilwe Letsholonyane had a good opportunity to head the home team into the lead, but his effort was wide of the goal.
Left back Marc van Heerden then produced a fine cross, but without reward. Shortly after that, Tshabalala, who had numerous shots on goal, had a shot blocked. He was also wide of the mark a few minutes later.
In the 17th minute, Bernard Parker came close to putting South Africa in front. but Mohamed Kabore, in the Burkina Faso goal, managed to push the ball just over the crossbar.
Shortly after that, in the 22nd minute, Bafana Bafana hit the front, courtesy of Tshabalala, whose low shot found the bottom left corner of the Burkina Faso net, after he had combined well with Bongani Zungu.
David Mathebula nearly doubled South Africa's advantage from a free kick, but Kabore was up to the challenge.
Tshabalala fired off a couple of long range efforts without troubling the Burkina Faso goalie, while Parker had a shot blocked. Letsholonyane then found the visitor's upright with a header as the hosts pushed for a second goal before the break.
Igesund's charges continued to press after the restart and Parker could have made it 2-0 in the 56th minute, but his header was directly into the goalkeeper's arms from close range while unmarked. Two minutes later, the Kaizer Chiefs' marksman had a goal disallowed for being offsides.
Moments later, the striker again had a shot blocked and when Siphiwe Tshabalala tried to follow up on that, his effort deflected high and into the goalie's hands.
Bafana kept pressing and Tshabalala skied a shot from the right after being fed by Reneilwe Letsholonyane. A snap shot from the dreadlocked Kaizer Chiefs' star then failed to deliver the curl he desired on the ball and passed right of the Burkina Faso goal.
After a turnover, Tshabalala played a ball in to an unmarked Parker, who was in an ideal position to score. The pass lacked the pace it needed, however, and a defender was able to nip in and knock the ball away for a corner. From the corner, Tshabalala sent another shot high over the goals.
In the 69th minute, Parker was fouled outside the Burkinabe's box. Marc van Heerden then found the Burkina Faso crossbar with a fizzing, dipping left-footed shot and the ball rebounded back into play.
After winning another corner, Hlompho Kekana blasted a shot from range, but the ball rose above the goals and passed harmlessly behind for a goal kick. Lebogang Manyama was then wide of the mark from the left after being fed by Parker.
Tshabalala, Lerato Chabangu let fly with a free kick from outside the box after Tshabalala was fouled. Like so many of Bafana Bafana's efforts, it flew high over the goal.
Kekana fired off a decent shot, but it took a deflection and went behind for a corner. From the corner, Parker forced a save low to the goalkeeper's left.
At last, Burkina Faso countered and Adama Zerbo was wide with a a tame effort from distance.
With three minutes left, the Burkinabe managed to outflank Bafana Bafana on the right, but a dangerous cross across the face of goal failed to find a Stallions' foot to steer it into the net.
Another late Burkina Faso attack, in stoppage time, came to nought when a shot was steered straight at Khune.
Lerato Chabangu ensured the Bafana Bafana victory moments later, when he got onto the end of a cross from a swift counter-attack and fired a powerful strike at goal. The goalie parried the ball, but it sat up invitingly for substitute Luyolo Nomandela, who couldn't miss and made it 2-0 to the home team.
Moments later, the game was over and South African captain Itumeleng Khune was left to lift the trophy the two teams had been contesting.