Makgopa brace propels Bafana to victory over Cranes

Johannesburg – Bafana Bafana striker Evidence Makgopa scored a brace on debut to propel South Africa to a 3-2 victory over Uganda in friendly match at a cold, load-shedding stricken Soweto’s Orlando Stadium last night.

South Africa staged a spirited second-half comeback after Bafana assistant coach Helman Mkhalele introduced Makgopa and Thabiso Kutemela and from then onwards the home side showed fluidity in their attack, going forward.

But it was the visiting Cranes of Uganda that had the first laugh when they opened the scoreline through an Ibrahim Okwi goal in the 17th minute as he proved, together with left-winger Emmanuel Okwi, to be a thorn in the flesh of Bafana throughout the first-half proceedings.

On a number of their attacks, however, Uganda found seasoned SA captain and keeper Ronwen Williams up to the task, more so in the first half, which the visitors dominated. The friendly match went into the half-time break with the Cranes leading by a solitary goal.

At the beginning of the second stanza, Bafana still looked shaky as they gave away possession cheaply until Mkhalele started making some tactical substitutions.

Both countries have assembled new squads, in preparation for the postponed World Cup qualifiers, initially scheduled for this month but were shelved by Fifa to September. Remarkably, both SA and Uganda have not qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in Cameroon next year.

Debutant substitute and PSL Young Player of the Season Makgopa opened his account in the 62nd minute to level matters, beating Uganda keeper Isima Watenga who looked bemused as he watched the ball hit the back of the net.

Bafana went a goal up five minutes later when Bongokuhle Hlongwane, who earned his second cap and partnered Siphelele Mkhulise as the SA attacking duo earlier, scored from a deflection as SA took the lead for the first time.

Makgopa kept on probing and his efforts were rewarded when got his second goal to seal his brace, thus proving to be a future prospect in the Bafana goalscoring stakes.

The visiting Cranes got their second goal after a mix-up and confusion in the Bafana defence, Abdu Lumala took advantage of the situation, denting the cocky confidence the SA players beginning to show. They should be warned, it is not over until the referee blows the final whistle.

Mkhalele and head coach Belgian Hugo Broos still have a long way to go in fine-tuning the new-look Bafana to be ready to conquer Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Ethiopia in the World Cup qualifiers starting in September.

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