Bafana battle before conquering Burkina 'C'
SOWETO, South Africa (AFP) - South Africa made heavy weather of a 2-0 World Cup warm-up win over Burkina Faso Saturday duing the Nelson Mandela Sport Day at Soccer City stadium in Soweto.
Although fielding a number of first choices, three-time World Cup qualifiers Bafana Bafana (The Boys) only sealed victory over a Stallions 'C' team with a stoppage-time goal.
The friendly football international did not fall during the FIFA calendar so Burkina Faso were unable to call up any overseas-based stars like Jonathan Pitroipa from French club Rennes.
Siphiwe Tshabalala put South Africa ahead midway through the first half and after rattling the woodwork twice, the home side added a second goal through substitute Luyolo Nomandela.
Quick, slick passing from the centre circle set up 81-cap midfielder Tshabalala, who fired a low shot wide of goalkeeper and captain Mohamed Kabore.
Reneilwe Letsholonyane struck the post and Marc van Heerden the crossbar before Nomandela tapped a goal-bound Lerato Chabangu shot over the line.
Fielding a team from leading local clubs ASFA Yennenga, Etoile Filante and Santos, Burkina Faso rarely threatened to score in warm, clear late winter conditions.
South Africa host Botswana and Burkina Faso are at home to Gabon during September in must-win World Cup qualifiers to have any chance of making African zone play-offs.
The inaugural Sport Day is a government brainchild to honour Mandela, 95, who has been in a Pretoria hospital for more than two months with a recurring lung infection.
Mandela became the first democratically elected president of the republic in 1994 and his single five-year term included several outstanding sporting achievements.
South Africa won the Rugby World Cup at the first attempt in 1995 and Mandela attended the final at Ellis Park in Johannesburg wearing a replica shirt of skipper Francois Pienaar.
A year later Mandela was at Soccer City to see Bafana Bafana lift the Africa Cup of Nations -- the only time they have won the biennial competition.
The Sport Day kicked off with a team of former Italian stars defeating their South African counterparts 2-0 and the Springboks face Argentina later in the Rugby Championship.