JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Oct 13 – South Africa and Uganda won international friendlies Sunday to give new coaches Molefi Ntseki and Northern Ireland-born Johnny McKinstry successful debuts.
Goals from Dean Furman and Themba Zwane earned South Africa a 2-1 home victory in Port Elizabeth over Mali, who were missing many stars, including Southampton forward Moussa Djenepo.
It was the first match for Bafana Bafana (The Boys) since xenophobic attacks on African immigrants in South Africa last month led Zambia and Madagascar to cancel friendlies.
McKinstry guided Uganda to a 1-0 away win over Ethiopia in Bahir Dar with long-serving Emmanuel Okwi scoring the only goal midway through the first half.
This is the third national coach post for the Irishman, who took charge of Sierra Leone in 2013 when only 27 years old and was later hired by Rwanda.
In other matches, there were away victories for Mozambique over Kenya and the Central African Republic over Niger while the Ivory Coast defeated the Democratic Republic of Congo in France.
Benin at home and Malawi away snatched late draws against Zambia and Lesotho respectively and Togo came from behind to hold Equatorial Guinea in France.
Ntseki was a controversial choice to succeed English coach Stuart Baxter after South Africa exited the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in the quarter-finals.
He had never been a head coach at senior level and critics alleged his appointment had more to do with the cash-strapped national football association needing a “cheap” replacement.
– Immediate goal –
But Ntseki insists he is up to the task with his immediate goal being to achieve a top-two finish in a 2021 Cup of Nations qualifying group including Ghana, Sudan and Sao Tome e Principe and reaching the finals.
South Africa controlled most of the match against Mali, but a 75th-minute goal from Sekou Koita for the visitors created a tense finish.
Judgment on Ntseki will have to be delayed as Mali lacked many of the players who took them to the last 16 of the Cup of Nations in Egypt this year.
The 1-0 win for Mozambique over Kenya in Nairobi was a surprise with the only goal coming from Amansio Canhembe midway through the second half.
Justin Shonga twice gave Zambia the lead against Benin in Porto Novo, but Michel Pote salvaged a 2-2 draw for the home side with a stoppage-time goal.
Malawi left it almost as late to rescue a 1-1 draw away to Lesotho in Maseru with Hassan Kajoke scoring two minutes from time after Hlompho Kalake had put the home team ahead.
Record seven-time African champions Egypt host Botswana Monday and 2019 Cup of Nations winners Algeria meet Colombia in France Tuesday as a six-day friendlies schedule continues.
The matches are being used to prepare teams for the first two rounds of qualifying during November for the 2021 Cup of Nations in Cameroon.