South Africa edged past Uganda 3-2 in an international friendly match at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Thursday evening.

Denis Onyango had mentioned how he would have loved to have featured against South Africa earlier this week and anticipated the game to be close and he was absolutely right as we witnessed a thrilling encounter between the two sides.

South Africa have to thank debutant Evidence Makgopa for netting a brace as Bongokuhle Hlongwane also found his name on the scoresheet. It was Ibrahim Orit and Abdu Lumala who scored for the Cranes, on the other hand.

Emmanuel Okwi looked extremely dangerous as he was making some darting runs down the right flank that troubled South Africa’s defence.

The newly-appointed Uganda captain was involved when the Cranes broke the deadlock after 17 minutes with the Bafana Bafana defence exposed.

Okwi was afforded time and space to deliver a quality cross into the South Africa box and Ibrahim Orit headed past goalkeeper Ronwen Williams at the far post to make it 1-0 to Uganda.

A mistake by Bafana Bafana’s Nkosinathi Sibisi, who failed to clear the ball away from danger just after the half-hour mark sent Okwi through on goal, but the Uganda star dragged his shot wide of the target. This proved to be the turning point in the game.

Williams was called into action at the stroke of half-time as he denied Shafik Kagimu, who had unleashed a powerful shot from range. The Cranes were the much better side going into halftime and could have put the game to bed.

However, with his side struggling in attack in the first half, South Africa’s assistant coach Helman Mkhalele introduced Thabiso Kutumela and Evidence Makgopa before the second half kicked off.

South Africa

South African players celebrate their first goal against Uganda. (Photo by PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images)

Ismail Watenga was finally tested in the Uganda goal as he made a smart reflex save to deny Innocent Maela just five minutes after the restart.

The Chippa United keeper was then beaten when Kutumela set up fellow substitute Makgopa, who scored on his international debut for South Africa to make it 1-1 in the 62nd minute.

South Africa continued to surge forward and they took the lead just 5 minutes later when Bongokuhle Hlongwane burst into the Cranes box, before firing past Watenga to make it 2-1 to South Africa.

The Cranes’ defence was struggling to contain Makgopa, who had a chance to grab another goal in the 78th minute, but the Baroka FC forward was denied by Watenga from close range.

Makgopa did get his second goal, however, in the 83rd minute. The 21-year-old fired past Watenga with a low shot after latching onto a good pass from Sphelele Mkhulise to make it 3-1 to South Africa as the game seemed all but over for the Cranes who had a promising first half.

Uganda did pull one back as Abdu Lumala scored with a header from close range in the 89th minute, but it was too little too late for the Cranes as South Africa held on to win 3-2 on the night.