Bafana Bafana kicked off their Africa Cup of Nations campaign with a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Mali in Group E on Tuesday night. The match took place at the Stade Amadou Gon Coulibaly, and despite their best efforts, South Africa couldn’t secure a victory.
Heading into the game, Bafana Bafana had Mothobi Mvala back in the lineup after recovering from a groin injury. He partnered with Siyanda Xulu in the center of defense, while Evidence Makgopa led the attack, supported by Themba Zwane, Percy Tau, and Thapelo Maseko.
South Africa’s hopes were raised early on when they were awarded a penalty in the 18th minute following a VAR review. However, Percy Tau failed to convert the spotkick, firing the ball over the crossbar.
Despite the missed opportunity, the team gained confidence on the ball, and Tau had another chance to redeem himself before halftime. Unfortunately, his shot at the near post was saved by goalkeeper Djigui Diarra.
Mali, on the other hand, proved to be more attacking after the break. Haidara had a big chance to extend their lead but struck his shot over the crossbar. The Eagles’ pressure eventually paid off in the 60th minute when Hamari Traore broke the deadlock with a tap-in from a rebound after Williams parried Sekou Koita’s free-kick into the crossbar.
Six minutes later, Mali doubled their lead as Lassine Sinayoko found the back of the net with a diagonal shot past Williams. Bafana Bafana struggled to create chances and couldn’t find a way past Mali’s defense.
With 15 minutes to go, South Africa’s coach, Hugo Broos, made a double attacking change, bringing on Mihlali Mayambela and Zakhele Lepasa for fresh legs. Although Bafana Bafana picked up their tempo going forward, they couldn’t break through Mali’s solid defense.
In stoppage time, Teboho Mokoena came close to pulling a goal back for South Africa with a long-range shot that hit the post. However, the match ended with a 2-0 victory for Mali.
Despite the defeat, Bafana Bafana will look to bounce back in their next match against Namibia on Sunday. They will need to regroup, analyze their performance, and come back stronger to keep their Africa Cup of Nations hopes alive.
Stay tuned for more updates on Bafana Bafana’s journey in the Africa Cup of Nations.