Yet it could yet prove a game that is pivotal in the future of Shakes Mashaba, whose position as head coach of the national team suddenly looks under threat.
South African Football Association president Danny Jordaan did not hold back after South Africa drew 1-1 with Mauritania at home in their final 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on Friday.
“I think it’s a disappointing performance. This must be the end of the journey, not the beginning, because this cannot lead us into the 2018 (World Cup) campaign, where we will play the giants of the African continent,” Jordaan told SuperSport.com afterwards.
“I hope the Nelson Mandela Challenge against Egypt will indicate to us that we have the team and determination … the will and guts to win.”
This is the clearest indication yet that Safa are considering whether to terminate Mashaba’s contract before the 2018 World Cup qualifiers kick off next month, with an away game in Burkina Faso.
He was mandated to qualify the team for the 2017 Afcon and had failed to do this even before Friday’s game. The result against Mauritania meant that Bafana finished third in their group, behind the visitors and Cameroon.
Mashaba defended his team’s performance after the game.
“I think our boys played very well, we were all over Mauritania,” he said, after a 1-1 draw in which Thamsanqa Gabuza missed a penalty, while Bafana wasted a host of other second half chances.
Mashaba also stood up for his Bafana record – noting that he did qualify the team for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. He clearly believes he is still the right man for the job.
“I would have love to qualify (for Gabon 2017) no one speaks about when we qualified for Equatorial Guinea (2015) … they are picking up on negatives. That is what makes me think I can qualify for the World Cup, it is not the end of the world. We need to sit down and talk to the technical committee.
“I have never failed to qualify for a tournament, this is the first time …. This can serve as a morale-booster for us to work hard and go forward. I wouldn’t want to comment on what the president said but all is passing in football, it is not permanent … it (losing your job) can happen any time, but I am still confident of achieving more than any other person who has coached Bafana.”