3 June 2013
Orlando Pirates midfielder Tlou Segolela scored a goal in each half as Bafana Bafana defeated Lesotho 2-0 in an international friendly match played at the Setsoto Stadium in Maseru, Lesotho on Sunday.
South Africa remains unbeaten against the Mountain Kingdom with five victories in six meetings and one draw.
Bafana struggled to put their passes together early on as the team adjusted to the artificial surface and a strong wind at their backs. They managed a number of chances, however, but it was only on the stroke of half-time that Segolela opened the scoring following a fine pass from Kaizer Chiefs’ midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala.
It was an easy tap-in for the man nicknamed Sox and it gave the cheering Bafana supporters something to celebrate going into the break.
The second half started with coach Gordon Igesund making several changes as he continued to give more players the opportunity to impress ahead of the forthcoming crucial 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Central African Republic and Ethiopia.
Bafana continued to pressurise the hosts and their efforts were rewarded on 60 minutes when Segolela pounced on a ball that had been weakly parried away by goalkeeper Kholuoe Phasumane and slotted a low, left-footed shot into the far corner.
It could have been 3-0 seven minutes later after striker Bernard Parker latched on to a pass from Tshabalala, but his shot was cleared off the line with the goalkeeper well beaten.
“The two goals were a great confidence-booster for me, but credit must go to the whole team as we worked very hard to achieve this result,” Segolela said afterwards.
“We did very well in windy conditions and this should set us up for a great travel to Cameroon. Hopefully we will repeat the same performance and even improve it slightly,” he added.
Both South Africa and Lesotho used the friendly as preparation for their upcoming Brazil 2014 Fifa World Cup Qualifiers.
South Africa faces the Central African Republic (CAR) on Saturday, 8 June in Yaounde, Cameroon, with the second match coming the following weekend against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa on Sunday, 16 June.
With injuries hampering Bafana Bafana’s preparations, head coach Gordon Igesund used a vastly different side on Sunday to the one that defeated the CAR 2- 0 in March in Cape Town.
Missing from the side were captain Itumeleng Khune, Thuso Phala and Reneilwe Letsholonyane, who were not even on the bench for the Lesotho encounter. Thabo Nthete was handed the captain’s armband for the match.
The main focus for the match, however, was trying out different combinations in defence where several players had to withdraw from the squad due to injuries.
Nthete played alongside Eric Mathoho in central defence – the first time they had done so so in the national team, even though they had played together at Bloemfontein Celtic before Mathoho made the switch to Kaizer Chiefs. Mathoho was replaced by Tefo Mashamaite in the second half.
Also coming on in the second stanza was Tebogo Langerman at left-back in place of Ricardo Nunes, while Senzo Meyiwa made his Bafana Bafana debut when he replaced Wayne Sandilands at goalkeeper.
“I gave a couple of players a run and I was very pleased with the outcome. We had to get to the bottom of our defensive troubles before we travel to CAR and Ethiopia. It was important to get it right here today. What I saw gave me a clear indication of what we need to do in our next match, which is very crucial,” said Igesund.
“Now we know what we need to work on and I believe we will get better, more so because Phala, May Mahlangu, Khune, Tokelo Rantie and Letsholonyane will be available for the two matches. So it was a good exercise for us and we have taken a lot from this match,” he added.
“I am happy with the result, but more so with the performance. I saw a lot that I needed to see, because without this match I would have had to experiment in Cameroon, which is very dangerous.”
Bafana Bafana depart for Cameroon on Tuesday afternoon.
SAinfo reporter and South African Football Association