Two goals in either half by debutant Ryan Moon and Gift Motupa were enough to see Bafana Bafana brush aside Botswana 2-0 in the first leg of the 2018 African Nations Championship qualifier.
The match took place at the Francistown Stadium in Botswana on Saturday, 15 July 2017.
This was South Africa’s second win in ten days against their neighbours, and by the same margin – the first time was in the COSAFA Castle Cup Plate semifinal (with goals from Riyaad Norodien and Judas Moseamedi).
Botswana has not beaten Bafana Bafana in 12 meetings – and South African has stretched their winning margin to 8 games, four draws.
After an ill-tempered match in Rustenburg, with tackles flying all over the field, many had expected a bruising battle, but it was not to be.
Instead it was an exciting brand of football dished out by the two sides, especially the home side, which controlled the proceedings from early on.
Backed by a decent crowd that was hoping for a better result from their side, with new head coach Major David Bright on the bench, Botswana tried hard to unsettle the South Africans, but the defence stood firm.
Earlier, Mothobi Mvala almost gifted the hosts a goal when he missed the ball inside the box but the defence recovered and cleared the danger.
But in the 28th minute Moon received a pass from Norodien, shook off his marker, beat a defender and slotted the ball past an advancing Mwapule Masule in the Botswana goal.
With the goal, Moon joins the likes of Doctor Khumalo, Dumisa Ngobe, Mpho Makola, the late John Shoes Moshoeu, Phil Masinga, Jabu Pule, Katlego Mphela and Gardner Seale as some of the players to have scored on debut for Bafana Bafana.
Moshoeu and Seale found the back of the net in the first ever clash against Botswana 24 years ago.
In the second half, Botswana made some substitutions as they were chasing the game in search of an equaliser.
Moon was replaced in the 65th minute and his place taken by Jamie Webber – the latter did not waste time to make an impact as his cross in the 72nd minute was missed by the Botswana defence. Cole Alexander, who was lurking behind, pulled the ball back and found Motupa in the box to tap in for a 2-0 lead.
It was his fourth goal for South Africa in his eight international. He last scored against the same Botswana in a 3-2 win in the COSAFA Cup last year.
No matter how much the home side tried to get back into the game the South Africans were resilient.
The visitors almost snatched the third when captain of the side Mario Booysen rose the highest and his header beat the opposition keeper but not the crossbar.
South Africa head coach Baxter then introduced U20 international Malebogo Modise into the fray in place of Norodien – but the former lasted only about six minutes on the field, as he was stretchered off with an injury. Sphelele Ntshangase replaced him.
Modise was the fourth debutant of the day after Moon, Teboho Mokoena and Sibusiso Khumalo.
South Africa and Botswana will meet in the second leg at the Moruleng Stadium on Saturday, 22 July 2017. Kickoff is at 15h00.