The Bafana Bafana team of South Africa commenced their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Group E campaign with a disappointing 2-0 loss against the Eagles of Mali on Tuesday night. The action unfolded at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium in Korhogo.
Former Mamelodi Sundowns star Percy Tau got a chance to put South Africa in the lead after VAR spotted an elbow on Evidence Makgopa's face in the 17th minute. However, the Al Ahly player sent his effort way off the target to keep the game level at half-time.
The miss ended up haunting Bafana Bafana as Mali scored twice in the second half, first from Hamari Traore in the 60th minute mark from a perfectly executed free-kick, and then Lassine Sinayoko putting the result beyond Hugo Broos‘ side six minutes later.
Bafana Bafana tried to stage a comeback but the Eagles stood strong to see out the win and climb to the top of the group.
Here’s a much closer assessment of the Bafana Bafana players in the encounter with Mali.
Bafana Bafana player ratings
Ronwen Williams (7.3/10)
The Bafana Bafana goalkeeper and captain displayed bravery despite conceding twice on the night. Out of 6 shots on target, Ronwen Williams made 4 saves but failed to keep out two efforts from Mali which ultimately resulted in the goals. In all, Williams finished the game as the best player on the night for Bafana.
Aubrey Modiba (6.7/10)
The Sundowns left-back engaged well in both defense and offense especially in the first-half where South Africa played really well, although his positioning wasn’t consistent throughout the game.
Mothobi Mvala (6.9/10)
Mothobi Mvala demonstrated versatility and aggression in the centre of defense, offering support both defensively and offensively. He was able to make 4 clearances, 3 interceptions and without being dribbled. Even with a yellow card in the 58th minute, the Sundowns man kept his composure for the remainder of the game.
Siyanda Xulu (6.6/10)
His partnership with Mvala proved effective in the first half, balancing his defensive duties whilst keeping his cool despite being on a yellow card. Siyanda Xulu made 1 clearance, blocked 1 shot and had 42/47 passes completed.
Khuliso Mudau (6.4/10)
Khuliso Mudau showcased solid defense and commendable runs from the backline. With 71 touches, he had 82% pass completion rate in the game, whilst making 2 interceptions and 1 clearance.
Thapelo Maseko (6.7/10)
Thapelo Maseko orchestrated the midfield well with 2 key passes and 1 shot on goal that nearly resulted in a scoring opportunity. He also delivered 3 complete dribbles out of 4 attempts, and won 8/16 ground duels. He was subbed off 3 minutes from time.
Sphephelo Sithole (6.6/10)
The 24-year-old Tondela midfielder continued his impactful performance for the club in Bafana's shirt, displaying effective distribution with 91% pass success rate with 1 crucial pass, 3 long balls completed from 3 attempts. He played the entire minutes.
Teboho Mokoena (6.8/10)
Ever reliable Teboho Mokoena showed his true potential and importance for Bafana Bafana. It could have ended differently if he had taken the spot-kick. Mokoena performed brilliantly tonight with 2 shots on target with another effort hitting the woodwork.
Percy Tau (6.7/10)
Percy Tau ended up as the villain of the night after his penalty miss, but he did try to make amends, registering 3 shots on target and winning 6/12 ground duels. The Al Ahly man lost possession 15 times but put in 5 tackles as well. He will look to make amends in Bafana Bafana's game if he ever starts again.
Themba Zwane (6.7/10)
The legendary midfielder had 91% success rate in his passes with 1 crucial pass made. Themba Zwane completed 2 dribbles from 3 attempts and also won 3 out of 8 ground duels. He played for 74 minutes before he was substituted.
Evidence Makgopa (7.0/10)
Despite limited opportunities, Evidence Makgopa displayed glimpses of impact, especially his run that resulted in the first-half penalty for Bafana Bafana.
Makgopa could have had more impact in the game if he was fully involved. The 23 touches he had in the game summarizes his story in the game with just 2 attempts, 1 off target and the other blocked.
Zakhele Lerato Lepasa (6.4/10)
The Orlando Pirates star was on the field of play for just 17 minutes after coming on for Makgopa, and was unable to make any impact with just 5 touches and 3 accurate passes from 3 attempts.
Mihlali Mayembela (6.2/10)
He replaced Zwane and played for 16 minutes and had 19 touches with the ball with 89% pass completion rate.
Thapelo Morena (6.5/10)
As a substitute for Maseko, Thapelo Morena only played for 8 minutes, lost possession twice from his 8 touches with the ball.
Next up for Bafana Bafana
Hugo Broos will rally his troops against southern neighbours Namibia next Sunday as Bafana Bafana seek to get their 2023 AFCON campaign back on track.
Placed bottom in group E, South Africa will be going all out for a win in what looks to be a potential tough affair at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium against the Brave Warriors of Namibia.
With a win already for Collin Benjamin's side and a chance to qualify outright if they beat Bafana Bafana, a lot is at stake for both teams who will leave no stone unturned.
This article was most recently revised and updated 1 month ago