Bafana Bafana got their World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign back up and running with a battling 2-1 win over Senegal on Saturday.
South Africa struggled to hold off the Lions of Teranga and got lucky with a penalty call to take the lead.
Thulani Hlatshwayo tucked away the spot-kick late in the first half and Thulani Serero finished off a great move by the hosts minutes later to give them a two-goal lead at the break.
In the second half, Senegal were even more fired-up by the injustice of the referee’s decision.
But Africa’s second-ranked team could only pull one back late on through Cheikh Ndoye as Bafana went joint-top of Group D.
Serero told reporters after the game that the team showed grit to hold for a result.
The goal hero says: “It was very difficult for us because they have a very good team. We had to grind to get the points. Especially when we play at home, we have to make sure we get all the points.
“He [coach Shakes Mashaba] made it clear to us in the second half they are going to come out and attack us, and maybe put on an extra striker.
‘So we have to make sure we protect our two goals and go out there and do it in the second half.”
Mashaba says forced substitutions of attacking aces Serero and Keagan Dolly put Bafana on the back foot for the second half.
He adds: “Sometimes when we [make a] sub, people think why do we take out so-and-so, but the player indicates that he’s got cramps.
“Serero, and even Keagan, came and signalled that they have cramps, because if you look at after taking out Serero and Keagan, that’s when they [Senegal] started coming for us.”
TEAM P W D L F A Pts
1. Burkina Faso 2 1 1 0 3 1 4
2 . South Africa 2 1 1 0 3 2 4
3 . Senegal 2 1 0 1 3 2 3
4 . Cape Verde 2 0 0 2 0 4 0