South Africa 3-2 Uganda: Youthful Bafana Bafana outsmart Cranes
Evidence Makgopa & Thabiso Kutumela, Bafana Bafana, June 2021
Newly crowned PSL Young Player of the Season Makgopa came off the bench to score a brace on his international debut

South Africa came back to secure a 3-2 win over Uganda in an entertaining international friendly match which was played at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg on Thursday evening.

Goals from Evidence Makgopa (brace) and Bongokuhle Hlongwane inspired Bafana Bafana to a narrow victory over the Cranes, who scored through Ibrahim Orit and Abdu Lumala.

Bafana were determined to bounce back to winning ways having suffered a 2-0 loss to Sudan in their last game in March 2021 which was the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

Ronwen Williams captained an inexperienced Bafana side with Helman Mkhalele taking charge of the team in the absence of head coach Hugo Broos and his assistant Cedomir Janevski.

On the other hand, the Cranes were also looking to return to winning ways after they had succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to Malawi in the 2022 Afcon qualifier in March 2021.

Interim Uganda coach Abdallah Mubiru also named a youthful team with newly-appointed captain Emmanuel Okwi leading the East-Central African side, while Ismail Watenga started in goal.

Uganda started the match brightly with Okwi looking to make runs in behind the South Africa defence and he was involved when the Cranes broke the deadlock.

Innocent Maela gave Okwi time and space to play in a delightful cross for Orit, who headed past Williams at the far post to hand Uganda a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute.

South Africa were struggling to create any meaningful chances with the likes of Sphelele Mkhulise and Lebohang Maboe giving away possession cheaply in the final third and the hosts were looking vulnerable at the back. 

Nkosinathi Sibisi's defensive mistake sent Okwi through on goal, but the experienced player dragged his shot wide of the target, before Shafik Kagimu's long-range shot was easily saved by Williams and Uganda were leading 1-0 at the interval.

Mkhalele introduced Thabiso Kutumela and Makgopa prior to the start of the second-half and the hosts managed to test Watenga, who made a smart save to deny Maela at the near post.

Parity was then restored in the 62nd minute when a quality cross from Kutumela was turned home by debutant Makgopa from close range to make it 1-1 as Mkhalele's decision to introduce the two strikers paid off. 

Bafana did not take their foot off the pedal after they leveled matters and they took a 2-1 lead when Hlongwane burst into the Uganda box, before scoring with a deflected shot in the 67th minute.  

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Mubiru reacted by introducing Lumala in the 79th minute, but the hosts extended their lead four minutes later after Mkhulise played a pass to Makgopa, who then scored with a low shot to make it 3-1 to South Africa.

Lumala did make an impact on the game as the Pyramids FC forward scored with a header from close range with a minute left, but the goal proved to be a mere consolation as South Africa held on to claim a 3-2 win on the night.

South Africa and Uganda will now turn their attention to September's 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers.