Bafana Bafana started their tune-up for the Africa Cup of Nations, slated for Ivory Coast in January 2024, with a dour draw against Eswatini.
Following the AFCON 2023 draws on Thursday, October 12, which pitted Bafana Bafana in Group E with Tunisia, Mali and the Brave Warriors of Namibia, they needed to send a clear message.
It means Bafana Bafana has to get to work immediately as they prepare for the January 2024 tournament.
Ahead of the tournament and the World Cup qualifiers, the South Africa national team have lined up some friendlies to keep the team in shape.
First on the line was the game against Eswatini, a day after the draws. Bafana Bafana hoped to use the game to build their confidence and reassure their teeming fans that they could make their way through the supposed group of death.
Hugo Broos is already working on getting his team in shape, but several issues threaten to derail his plans.
Bafana Bafana vs Eswatini: All flair no bite
South Africa and Eswatini are by no means two evenly matched sides. On any given day, the South African side should blow the 43rd-ranked African country out of the water.
Ranked 13th in Africa, South Africa intended to show the full weight of the difference between both sides.
In the fifth minute, Eswatini's goalkeeper was alert to stop Themba Zwane's effort. The South Africans served early notice of their intentions.
Early first-half pressure by the South Africans soon mellowed as the Eswatini side held them off. After a quarter of an hour, the tie remained goalless without any bright moment.
South Africa continued to press, and in the 18th minute, Mihlali Mayambela tested Shabalala in goal for Eswatini, but he did well to save it.
Eswatini seemed to have one intention – keeping the Bafana Bafana at bay, and after 25 minutes, the game plan was working. They had yet to concede against their more illustrious opponents.
After half an hour, Bafana Bafana were still battling to break down the Eswatini defence with nothing to show for their efforts.
South Africa enjoyed a massive share of possession, with the in-game stats showing they had 74%, but they still could not fashion out a goal.
The first half ended with South Africa dominating the game but lacked bite.
So far nothing exciting at all besides this shot from Mobbie off a Mokoena freekick. Bafana dominating possession but lacking that creative edge in the final 3rd.
🇿🇦 Bafana Bafana 0-0 Eswatini 🇸🇿 pic.twitter.com/BGPdqsSnSD
— Sahil Ebrahim (@sahil_e_) October 13, 2023
Profligacy in front of goal robbed Bafana Bafana of victory
Perhaps the empty stadium was taking its toll on Bafana Bafana. They looked clueless in the first half and had no idea how to unlock the Eswatini defence.
After a dull first stanza, Hugo Broos rang the changes in the second half.
Mihlali Mayambela, Teboho Mokoena and Themba Zwane all made way for Bongokuhle Hlongwane, Sibongesi Mthethwa and Mduduzi Mdantsane.
Mdantsane was quick to make his impression felt. In the tenth minute of the second half, he saw his effort well-saved by Shabalala.
After the hour mark, Hugo Broos made more changes. He handed Paseka Mako at the expense of Aubrey Modiba. Siyanda Xulu also made way for Grant Kekana.
Eswatini also reached to their bench to freshen up the lineup. Philani Thabo Mkhontfo made way for Ncamiso Diamini.
Eswatini barely tested South Africa, with Bafana Bafana having plenty of possession but struggled to break down the lowly-ranked Eswatini.
With desperation to score came several misses from Bafana Bafana. They created good opportunities but failed to take them.
Eswatini were working their socks off to keep Bafana Bafana at bay, with plenty of success.
They were forcing them into making unnecessary errors. A clear message to Hugo Broos that he has work to do.
Bafana Bafana laboured unsuccessfully, and despite their possessional superiority, Hugo Broos has plenty of gaps to fill.
Eswatini is not the kind of team to trouble South Africa, but they showed South Africa they need lessons in finishing.
Goalkeeper: Veli Mothwa
Defence: Aubrey Modiba, Nkosinathi Sibisi, Siyanda Xulu, Nyiko Mobbie
Midfield: Njabulo Blom, Teboho Mokoena, Themba Zwane
Forward: Mihlali Mayambela, Khanyisa Mayo, Lyle Foster
Ricardo Goss, Ronwen Williams, Grant Kekana, Mothobi Mvala, Paseka Mako, Khuliso Mudau, Mduduzi Mdantsane, Sibongesi Mthethwa, Bongokuhle Hlongwane, Sphephelo Sithole, Zakhele Lepasa, Lebo Mothiba
Manager: Hugo Broos
Goalkeeper: Khanya-kwezwe Shabalala
Defence: Mxolisi Simiso Manana, Kwakhe Thwala, Sibonga-khonkhe Quinton Samkelo Ginindza
Midfield: Mzwandile Mabelesa, Sifiso Matse (C), Bongwa Matsebula;
Forward: Njabulo Magagula, Mxolisi Mkhonto, Philani Thabo Mkhontfo
Xolani Gama, Ncamiso Diamini, Vilakati Vusumuzi, Sizolwethu Shabalala, Simanga Masangane, Ayanda Gadlela, Dennis Matse, S.M. Gwebu, Neliso Myeni, Siphephelo Philiso
Manager: Dominic Kunene
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago