The former Pirates man was in charge as head coach Hugo Broos was in Belgium being vaccinated while assistant Cedomir Janevski contracted Covid-19

A lack of experience, minimal preparation time and nerves, were behind Bafana Bafana’s poor first half showing against Uganda at the Orlando Stadium on Thursday night, says assistant coach Helman Mkhalele.

South Africa went on to win the friendly international against the Cranes 3-2, thanks to second half goals by Bongokuhle Hlongwane and Evidence Makgopa, who netted a brace.

However, the score-line does not tell the full story as the hosts had really battled in the first half and were at times overrun by the Ugandans.

Mkhalele believes there were several factors behind the cagey opening stanza.

“During the first half we really struggled with the central midfield. Because that is where the Ugandans, especially number 10 and number 8 [dominated],” Mkhalele told the media afterwards.

“So they were able to build from the back and penetrate us so easily. I attribute that to lack of experience of our boys and also they were nervous.

“And more importantly, we didn’t have any friendly game to make sure we build those combinations.

“We only had two training seasons and almost 11 players that had never played together before. So I believe that first half this contributed for us not to be able to manage the game effectively.”

It was a different story after the interval as Bafana played with more purpose and confidence. Mkhalele explained what changed:

“First and foremost we needed to change our formation. After changing the formation and changing the personnel, we believed that would help us to make sure Uganda don’t build from the back.

“We put high pressure on them at the back, because once we win the ball in their half, it becomes very easy for our boys, because of their technical abilities.

“Individually and collectively, we saw those beautiful combination passes, one-twos, to create those goal-scoring opportunities.

“Second half we could have scored more goals, but I’m so proud we took our chances.”

South Africa are busy preparing for the World Cup qualifiers, which begin in September. They are grouped with Ghana, Ethiopia and neighbours Zimbabwe.

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