Bafana Bafana’s COSAFA Cup campaign did not get off to an ideal start as they let a one-goal lead slip to draw 1-1 with Mozambique on Wednesday.

The South Africans took charge of the match right from the start and immediately began to pile on the pressure with Asanele Velebayi’s header rebounding off the post in the third minute.

Soon after, Thabang Sibanyoni’s effort was just off target and then Velebayi’s long-range drive forced a save from Acacio Muendane.

The Mambas had their first chance in the 25th minute when Dario Melo spotted Bafana goalkeeper Mondli Mpoto off his line and the gloveman had to scramble back quickly to tip an ambitious and accurate chip over the crossbar.

Muendane made a big save in the 34th minute to deny Sibanyoni from close range but could not prevent Bafana finally capitalising on their dominance and taking the lead in the 39th minute when captain Rushwin Dortley smashed in a cross from Ethan Brooks, finally cracking the Mozambican defence to give Bafana a 1-0 lead going into half-time.

In the second half, Mozambique looked a much improved side and had had an early second-half opportunity to level matters but Jose Valipavai’s 50th-minute shot grazed the crossbar after a quick break. Moments later Mpoto was called into action to prevent a dangerous Mozambiqan entry into the box.

It was a good spell for the Mambas and Jeremiah Nhambire’s header went wide from a corner in the 57th minute. Bafana skipper Dortley came close to netting his second two minutes later, but his headed attempt from a set piece went narrowly over the crossbar.

The Mambas deservedly equalised in the 65th minute when Chamito Alfandega’s sweetly-struck grass-cutter swished past Bafana goalkeeper Mondli Mpoto and into the bottom corner.

Sinoxolo Kwayiba had a glorious chance to win it for the South Africans at the death, but he was denied by a brilliant intervention at the last minute by Mambas’ right-back Ossama Pedro.

Mozambique currently top Group A standings, with South Africa in second, Botswana and Eswatini in third and fourth, respectively.

Mkhalele’s men next take on Botswana on Saturday, while Mozambique will play Eswatini on the same day.