Bafana Bafana produced an inspired performance in the second half to earn a 1-1 draw against Cameroon in the Gabonese capital of Libreville as they continue preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations 2015.
Cameroon were quick off the blocks in the first and almost grabbed the opening goal shortly after kick-off but Brilliant Khuzwayo was on the mark to smother the danger.
The Indomitable Lions were then awarded a free-kick just on the edge of the box and Vincent Aboubacar fired Cameroon into the lead on the 7th minute with a great strike that gave goalkeeper Khuzhwayo no chance.
The Cameroonians used their physique to their advantage as they bullied Bafana Bafana off the ball but the second half was completely different ball game altogether as the South Africans used their speed and skill to great effect.
There was a bit of scare for Bafana Bafana in the first half as Andile Jali was stretched off with an injury but the tenacious midfielder shrugged the setback off and was soon back on the field.
Bafana Bafana came close to grabbing the equaliser seven minutes before the break but Parker’s effort went just wide as the Cameroonians held on for a slender first half lead.
It was a much improved display by Bafana Bafana in the second half as they started probing the Cameroon defence. A brilliant run down the right ended with Matlaba’s fine strike fisted away by the Cameroon keeper on 56 minutes. Then Jali saw his thumping shot cleared for a corner.
But with Bafana Bafana buzzing, it was just a question of time before they found that elusive equaliser.
Sibusiso Vilakazi proved to be an inspired substitute as he brought Bafana Bafana back on level terms on the 77th minute. If the Cameroon goal was brilliant, well Vilakazi’s effort was simply outstanding as he beat the Cameroon defence before planting the ball into the net.
It could have been advantage Bafana Bafana moments later following a great run by Phala on the left but his cross into the box could not find a yellow Bafana Bafana shirt.
The match was part of preparations for the CAF Orange Africa Cup of Nations Equatorial Guinea 2015 tournament which starts from 17 January to 8 February. It also afforded the Bafana Bafana technical staff the opportunity to try out new combinations. Mashaba made six changes to the squad that defeated Zambia 1-0 on 4 January at Orlando Stadium.
Khuzwayo was in the starting line-up ahead of Darren Keet in goals while the coaches only made one change at the back with Eric Mathoho rested and Thulani Hlatshwayo given the run alongside Rivaldo Coetzee, Anele Ngcongca and Thabo Matlaba.
Andile Jali and Dean Furman, who was appointed captain for this match, made their return to the starting line-up after missing out due to injury and club commitments respectively. Themba Zwane replaced Mandla Masango while Oupa Manyisa was the only player who retained his place in the middle of the park.
Tokelo Rantie spearheaded the Bafana Bafana attack alongside Bernard Parker, who came on for Bongani Ndulula.
Bafana Bafana will continue their preparations for the AFCON 2015 with another friendly match against Mali on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Darren Keet has been given leave of absence from the Bafana Bafana camp to be with his wife, who is expecting their first child. He left for Belgium after the match against Cameroon and will return to camp on Monday, 12 January.
Also leaving the Bafana Bafana camp is Patrick Phungwayo due to injury and his replacement will be named in due course.