RUSTENBURG - On the occasion of the 25th year anniversary of South Africa’s first international match, a makeshift Bafana Bafana team delivered the goods out in Rustenburg on Friday.
And they did so via the same scoreline that saw the country make a victorious return to Fifa.
Back in 1992 out at Durban’s Kings Park Stadium, Doctor Khumalo scored from the penalty spot to give Bafana a 1-0 win over Cameroon to end South Africa’s isolation from the global game.
Not that Mohau Mokate would be fully aware of that match. After all, the Maritzburg United player had only just turned one-year-old when Khumalo and his team mates stunned the Indomitable Lions.
On Friday though, Mokate got his name into the Bafana history books as his solitary first half goal delivered the Cosafa Cup Plate to the defending champions.
Winners last year, Bafana were eliminated at the ’first hurdle’ courtesy of defeat to guests Tanzania in the quarter-final and thus had to contest the consolation 5th spot.
The goal was somewhat fortuitous, Mokate’s shot from the edge of the box getting a wicked deflection of a Namibian defender to go into the net.
Yet it could easily have been a different story had Namiba capitalised on their early opportunity from the penalty spot. But Ronald Ketjitjere sent his attempt from the spot wide off goals.
There were three other chances for Namibia to find the hosts’ net. But first Denzil Hoaseb’s attempt ricocheted off the cross bar on 78 minutes before Deon Hotto sent the ball way over when finding the target from the edge of the box appeared easier for minutes later.
Then deep in injury time Sandile Mthethwa cleared the ball off the line before goalkeeper Boalefa Pule pulled off a brilliant save to deny Peter Shalulile.
Bafana also had chances to have made the score 2-0, the most glaring one falling for Judas Moseamedi who beat the offside trap but dilly-dallied with the ball with the Namibian goalkeeper off his line.
When he did send the ball over, the Cape Towin City man sent it wide off the target.
In the end though it was the men in yellow celebrating while those in red lamented what could have been.
Bafana had coach Stuart Baxter on the bench despite him having been sent off in the Plate semifinal when his team beat Botswana.
This was because after reviewing the referees report, the Cosafa committee recommended that Baxter be given a warning letter instead of a suspension.
This though was nothing new as precedent had been set last year when Botswana coach Peter Banda was similarly allowed on the bench after being sent off.
At this year’s competition, the Angola goalkeeper coach was also part of the technical committee a match after being sent off.
The coach’s presence appeared to help Bafana who went on to win a match that saved the country’s blushes after they were dethroned as reigning champions as early as the quarterfinals when they lost to Tanzania.
And it also made the anniversary day all the more special.