Nelson Mandela Challenge: South Africa vs Mali



This will be Molefi Ntseki’s first match since being appointed head coach of Bafana Bafana and he is expected to use it to prepare for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. It has been confirmed that Arthur Zwane and Trott Moloto will form part of the national team setup for this match, which will give fans a taste of what the new coach has in store for them. 

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Nelson Mandela Challenge
South Africa vs Mali  
Sunday 13 October 
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium 
15:30


To Win (90 Mins)
South Africa 13/10
Draw 2/1
Mali 2/1

South Africa

Injuries to Brandon Petersen and Thamsanqa Mkhize have forced Ntseki to call up Bidvest Wits goalkeeper Ricardo Goss and Bloemfontein Celtic defender Tshepo Rikhotso. However, I don’t foresee either of the two new inclusions gaining any game time. I think captain Thulani Hlatshwayo will drift into the right-back position with Eric Mathoho taking his place at centre-back.

The midfield has been one of Bafana’s strongest positions in recent years and the coach will be spoilt for choice as the likes of Kamohelo Mokotjo, Dean Furman, Bongani Zungu and Themba Zwane to mention a few will be fighting for a place in the starting eleven. The attack has sharp players like Club Brugge forward Percy Tau, who recently provided an assist to Dennis Emmanuel against the mighty Real Madrid in a 2-2 draw at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

Speaking of in-form players, Bradley Grobler has been scoring goals for fun and his header won SuperSport United the MTN8 this past weekend. I think he should start ahead of Lebo Mothiba who has failed to live up to expectations whenever he’s representing the national team. Grobler, who was crowned the best PSL player for the month of September, could be partnered by Kermit Erasmus who is among the league’s top goalscorers this season. 

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Mali

After the Africa Cup Nations round of 16 elimination by Ivory Coast, the Malian Football Federation has not offered head coach Mohamed Magassuoba a new contract as the previous deal expired on 31 July 2019. However, he has led the team in a friendly which finished 1-1 against Saudi Arabia. One of the reasons for the delay in this decision was the change in the federation leadership as Mamoutou Toure was appointed as the new president.  

Mali will face teams like Guinea, Namibia and the winner of the play-off match between Liberia and Chad in the 2021 AFCON Qualifiers. Just like their opponents, they will use this glorified friendly to prepare for those competitive games. The likes of captain Abdoulay Diaby, TP Mazembe’s Ibrahim Mounkoro and Adama Traore will be geared up for action in what is expected to be a thrilling contest. 

In terms of FIFA rankings, the Eagles of Mali who are placed 54th lie 17 places above their opponents. Their quality should come to the fore when it comes to critical moments of the game but it remains to be seen how they cope with the hosts in the “Windy City” under conditions they might not be used to. 

Prediction: South Africa (13/10)

Bafana Bafana players will be trying to impress coach Ntseki ahead of the AFCON qualifiers and they face a team whose coach faces an uncertain future. South Africa’s attackers like Percy Tau, Bradley Grobler and Kermit Erasmus have been impressive in recent months and I expect them to score a few goals here. Back the home team to triumph. 

Written by Benedict Ngwenya

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