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Bafana Edge Costa Rica
South Africa battled to a hard-fought 2-1 win over Costa Rica to claim the Nelson Mandela Challenge in Potchefstroom on Saturday.

Patrick Mayo struck with three minutes left to give Bafana Bafana their fourth triumph in nine annual Nelson Mandela Challenge matches.

This after Italy-based Siyabonga Nomvete had given the home side the lead in the 75th minute, only for  defender Aaron Mokoena to bring the match to an even keel via a freakish own goal.

It was a game of few and far between goal-scoring chances until the final quarter, but watchable all the same, with no shortage of commitment from both sides, including a few flash points and flying tackles.

Against a Costa Rican squad missing most of their big-name players, Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba made significant changes to the team that beat Lesotho 3-0 in midweek.

Tottenham Hotspur defender Mbulelo Mabizela returned from England to take over the captain's armband from John Moshoeu, while there was a significant tinge of foreign-based players in Tony Coyle, Japhet Zwane, Aaron Mokoena, Siyabonga Nomvete and late second half substitute Josta Dladla..

For Costa Rica it was largely the youthful squad that acquitted itself admirably in the recent Gold Cup in the USA.

Man-of-the-match Nomvete used his blistering pace to excellent effect, getting himself into promising positions early on, but invariably his final touch let him down.

Ten minutes into the half, the Udinese forward combined well with his former Kaizer Chiefs team-mate Jabu Pule, with the latter's cross from the right bringing out a good finger-tip save from Costa Rica goalkeeper Adrian De Lemos.

As action swung to the other end midway through the first half, John Moshoeu fouled Rolando Fonseca outside the box, and from the resultant freekick Alvaro Sabario's glancing header failed to trouble Andre Arendse.

Bafana's riposte was in the form of a move which culminated with David Kannemeyer whipping in a wicked cross from the left that De Lemos did well to palm away to safety.

There was consternation on the Bafana bench when Arendse went down under a challenge as he came out to collect Alexander Castro's freekick from the right, but the Sundowns custodian was able to continue after lengthy treatment on the pitch.

As half-time loomed, Costa Rica defender Winston Parks' clearance went straight to Patrick Mayo, who despite having acres of space to manoeuvre, rushed his effort and shot tamely and straight at a grateful De Lemos.

Mashaba then made what looked like an enforced change a minute before the break when Stanton Fredericks came on for Zwane to bring the compliment of Chiefs players on the pitch to five.

Coyle became the first player in Zimbabwean referee Tendai Bwanya's book for a late challenge on Costa Rican skipper Mauriccio Wright in added on time at the end of the first half, and was to be followed in quick succession by Cosmos midfielder Teboho Mokoena.

Moshoeu, who scored in the midweek friendly international win against Lesotho, tried his luck with a long range effort three minutes after the break.

Arendse then gathered with ease from Sentenio's shot on the volley as the visitors started to enjoy the exchanges.

Moshoeu, looking to make the most of his return to the international fold, dragged his freekick narrowly wide of De Lemos, who was still suffering the after effects of a knock he suffered in a collision with Mayo.

Veteran midfielder Moshoeu was the architect of Bafana's opener when he beat his marker on the left before cutting back for Nomvete, who expertly turned Wright before firing past De Lomos at the near post.

But the lead lasted just four minutes as Mokoena headed substitute Solis's harmless looking cross from the left past his own goalkeeper.

Nomvete then turned provider in the 87th minute when he picked up the ball from the centre circle and raced into the Costa Rican half before releasing Mayo on the left.

Despite the attentions of his marker, the Kaizer Chiefs striker managed a low shot, which De Lemos contrived to let slip under him.


South Africa: Arendse, Coyle (Tau 85), Mabizela, Mokoena, Kannemeyer, Pule, Teboho Mokoena (Dladla), Moshoeu, Zwane (Fredericks, 44), Nomvete, Mayo

Costa Rica: De Lemos, Chinchilla, Castro, Diaz, Parks, Fonseca (Solis, 59), Sabario (David Diaz 68) Wright, Sentenio, Lopez, Bryce (Bennette 85)


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