NELSPRUIT, South Africa (AFP)
South Africa ended an eight-match winless run by outclassing
Gabon 3-0 at chilly Mbombela Stadium Friday in a lively friendly
Captain Siphiwe Tshabalala converted a late first-half free kick
to put Bafana Bafana (The Boys) ahead and Tokelo Rantie and
Mzikayise Mashaba hit second-half goals.
Since defeating Burkina Faso by the same score in a friendly last
August, South Africa have lost to Niger and Zimbabwe and drawn
with Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Senegal,
Ethiopia and Botswana.
The home draw with Ethiopia in a 2014 World Cup qualifier two
weeks ago led to coach Pitso Mosimane being sacked and assistant
Steve Komphela was appointed caretaker boss of the 2013 Africa
Cup of Nations hosts.
Komphela, who led unfashionable Free State Stars to a top-eight
finish in the South African Premiership last season, is among
five candidates to succeed $125,000-a-month Mosimane.
Fellow local coaches Gavin Hunt, Gordon Igesund, Ephraim 'Shakes'
Mashaba and 1996 Cup of Nations-winning captain Neil Tovey were
interviewed Thursday and Komphela will meet a South African
Football Association panel next week.
Igesund has guided four clubs to the Premiership title and
transformed Moroka Swallows from relegation candidates to league
runners-up last season and would be a popular public and media
But 44-year-old former national team captain Komphela did his
chances no harm as his experimental team lacking captain and
Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Steven Pienaar displayed clinical
finishing long missing from Bafana Bafana sides.
After finding the net only five times in the eight winless
outings, it took South Africa 42 minutes to make a breakthrough
against opponents lacking stars like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
and Daniel Cousin.
Having taken an age to execute a free kick, Tshabalala lifted the
ball over a defensive wall and into the near corner of the net
beyond goalkeeper Didier Ovono.
A superb through ball from substitute Thulani Serero sent Rantie
clear on 68 minutes and he hammered the ball across the
goalkeeper and into the far corner to the delight of fans wrapped
up against the winter cold.
Substitute Mzikayise Mashaba claimed the third goal eight minutes
later by bursting past a defender and then delicately chipping
the ball over Ovono to complete the best Bafana Bafana showing
for some time.