South Africa (1) 2
Parker 7, 88
Mozambique (0) 0
Nelspruit - This was like watching an old video featuring Bafana Bafana as they made heavy weather of overcoming a vastly weakened Mozambique at the Mbombela Stadium last night.
New coach Gordon Igesund may have got his first victory in his first home match, but the problems which beset his predecessors were there for all to see, Bafana failing to take advantage of an early lead which Bernard Parker had given them until it was just too late.
Igesund will argue this was only his second match in charge, and so he could not be expected to work a miracle in such a short period. But the reality is that these sort of frustrating evenings, when Bafana simply fail to bury lowly opponents, have been seen several times in recent years.
That Bafana were faced with a second-string Mozambican side, who travelled to the Mpumalanga capital without five key players after stunning Morocco in an African Nations Cup qualifier at the weekend, tells a despairing story about South Africa with just four months to next year’s continental championship.
It should be pointed out that Mozambique actually played their match against Morocco only on Sunday, and thus will have had little rest, and it showed in their disjointed play.
The Mambas had lost all three of their previous ties with Bafana, and surely did not expect any change in that regard with the South Africans buoyed by a spirited performance against Brazil last Friday.
Parker at least displayed the composure that was sorely lacking from Bafana, converting in either half to secure a laborious victory that had Igesund prancing around his dugout and the sparse crowd momentarily chanting Shosholoza.
Nothing, however, could disguise the flaws, which, for years, have beset a Bafana team who clearly do not know how to kick a dead horse.
Igesund had stated in his pre-match comments that he would seek to revitalise the starting XI with new faces, but there was nothing of that sort as he stuck to mostly the players who did duty against the Brazilians.
He handed a start to Moeneeb Josephs ahead of Itumeleng Khune, while Reneilwe Letsholonyane replaced Kagisho Dikgacoi in central midfield. In fact, aside from Lerato Chabangu and Dean Furman, the rest of the XI had a “Pitso Mosimane” feel about it, confirming long-held assertions that Igesund would struggle to overhaul the team overnight in spite of his bold, overzealous declarations to the contrary.
The Bafana coach will have grinned with expectation of more goals following Parker’s opener, which came courtesy of a great tee-up by Siphiwe Tshabalala after just seven minutes. Parker timed his run splendidly before slotting the ball past Nelson Logomale, the Mozambican goalkeeper.
Some in a very poor crowd - of 9 457, to be precise - clearly expected Bafana to build on what was a great start, but instead the South Africans seemed to deteriorate, their passes going astray and general play not really impressive.
As a result, it was not before the 65th minute that Bafana fashioned another chance, with Logomale denying a clean-through Tshabalala.
Parker, though, had Igesund breathing easier with a well-worked second goal, which came after an excellent counter-attack that had Siboniso Gaxa skipping the ball for his Kaizer Chiefs teammate to score his 12th international goal.
Mozambique had Almiro Lobo sent off late on, but they could have found a consolation thanks to a glaring error by Josephs, who mistimed a back-pass, only for substitute Bevan Fransman to produce a brave block and deny a Mozambican striker.