Jonty Mark

By Jonty Mark

Football Editor

Awful Bafana held by Eswatini

Bafana create few clear chances in a dull match at FNB Stadium.

If Bafana Bafana’s two home friendlies against Namibia and Eswatini were supposed to test how they fare against sides that face up to them with a defensive gameplan, then they have failed their examination miserably.

Bafana head coach Hugo Broos had wanted to use these games in preparation for Bafana’s opening Fifa World Cup qualifiers against Benin and Rwanda next month. After Bafana played out a goalless draw with Namibia last month, Broos announced himself even more determined to win Friday’s match against Eswatini at FNB Stadium.

And yet all Bafana could manage was the same result, a dull 0-0 that shows little indication they are ready to launch a successful qualification campaign for the 2026 Fifa World Cup.

This cavernous stadium was empty in large parts, fans as absent as Bafana were of attacking ideas at times against a side ranked 144th in the world. They will need a far better display on Tuesday if they are to get anything out of a visit to Abidjan to take on the Ivory Coast.

Bafana started the game well enough yesterday and a returning Themba Zwane should have given them the lead as early as the fifth minute, after some wonderful link-up play with Mihlali Mayambela sent him clean through, but his shot was tame and easily saved by Swazi goalkeeper Khanya Shabalala.

In the 25th minute, Lyle Foster conjured himself an opportunity inside the box, but blazed over the bar. Bafana were suddenly finding some rhythm and Mayambela set up Khanyisa Mayo, but he also hit a poor shot straight at Shabalala.

In the 35th minute, full back Nyiko Mobbie tried his luck from range, at least forcing Shabalala to dive to his left and make a save.

A close call

Bafana came desperately close to scoring a couple of minutes before the break as Shabalala gifted possession to Mayambela, but he pulled his effort just wide.

It was Eswatini who had the first chance of the second half, Mcolisi Mkhontfo, who had also wasted a couple of first half opportunities, putting another effort off target.

Just after the hour mark, Bafana should really have scored as Aubrey Modiba’s cross somehow evaded Hlongwane and found its way to Mayo at the back post, but he smashed his effort into the stands.

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