South Africa's national team, Bafana Bafana, continued their fine form in 2023 as they played out a 1-1 draw with the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) hosts Ivory Coast on Tuesday.
Bafana Bafana went into the lead in the opening 10 minutes of the match through Themba Zwane before Ivory Coast equalized through Sébastien Haller in the second half to ensure a share of the spoils at Stade Felix Houphouët-Boigny in Abidjan.
Full time result:
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Ivory Coast came into this match on the back of a 1-1 draw with Morocco, while South Africa played a goalless draw with Eswatini before travelling to Abidjan for this contest.
It was the first time the two teams will be facing each other since their 2019 AFCON group opener and it lived up to the billing in front of a sizable crowd at the game.
Instant impact from Banana Bafana's changed team
South Africa coach Hugo Broos made six changes to the side that drew goalless with Eswatini in Johannesburg last Friday. Goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, Mothobi Mvala, Khuliso Mudau, Sphephelo Sithole, Bongokuhle Hlongwane and Lebogang Mothiba were all brought in.
The full strength side showed their early intentions as Hugo Broos' charges went into the lead through Themba Zwane. The Sundowns star's looping shot in the six-yard box after a cut-back by Teboho Mokoena made its way into the net after just nine minutes.
Ivory Coast, who will be hosting the continent next year, were quite dangerous every time they came forward and their best chance was just before the half-hour mark when Sebastien Haller's powerful header in the box went just over the crossbar.
With the half nearing its end, Bafana Bafana nearly handed the hosts the equalizer on a platter after a mistake in the box by Mvala.
The defender attempted to play out from the back but Haller, who got hold of the wayward pass, attempted a lob over goalkeeper Williams but it came off the post.
Bafana Bafana maintain first half lead
The game was largely balanced in the final embers of the first half, with Bafana Bafana combining well going forward.
They also ensured they kept the ball away from the hosts for the remainder of the half and they managed to hold onto the narrow lead going into the break.
Improved second half performance from Ivory Coast
Just like they did in the first half, South Africa made a strong start in the second half as Mudau should have made it two nil just eight minutes in. The full-back could only send his effort off target after going one-on-one with shot-stopper Yahia Fofana.
From that moment on, Jean-Louis Gasset's side upped the ante and they deservedly got their goal. Haller headed home from inside the area just six minutes after the hour mark.
The Elephants wanted the win and kept the heat on, but Broos responded by making a tactical and defensive change, as he brought on Nyiko Mobbie in place of Mihlali Mayambela.
Ivory Coast kept Bafana Bafana back in their half till the end of the match but Broos' men held on to ensure the spoils were shared.
Ivory Coast vs Bafana Bafana line ups
Ivory Coast: Yahia Fofana, Ndicka, Diomande, Konan, Singapore, Kessie, Sangare, Seko Fofana, Diakite, Bamba, Zaha, Haller.
Subs: Folly, Sangare, Kossonou, Sylla, Boly, Konate, Seri, Kouame, Krasso, Adingra, Diakite, Traore.
Bafana Bafana: Williams, Mudau, Xulu, Mvala, Modiba, Sithole, Mokoena, Zwane, Mayambela, Hlongwane, Mothiba
Subs: Goss, Mothwa, Mobbie, Sibisi, Blom, Mayo, Foster, Kekana, Mthethwa, Mdantsane, Mako
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago