South Africa cruised to a 3-0 victory in Sudan on Friday as the group phase of the 2015 CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifying competition kicked off. It was a dream start for new coach Ephraim 'Shakes' Mashaba in Group A as his new-look, youthful side gradually took control against a woeful home side in sweltering Omdurman.
Substitute Sibusiso Vilakazi scored twice within seven minutes early in the second half at the El-Merrikh Stadium and Bongani Ndulula added a late third goal. It was a record-equalling away win for Bafana Bafana in an Africa Cup qualifier having beaten Chad by the same score in a 2008 eliminator. And it was a record Nations Cup home defeat in a qualifier for the Jediane Falcons, whose worst previous results were two-goal losses to Ghana (twice), Algeria and Côte d'Ivoire.
The highlights of a scrappy opening half before a large crowd were acrobatic saves by the rival goalkeepers and captains Moez Mahjoub and Senzo Meyiwa. Although Sudan won more possession, the miss of the opening half came from South African Tokelo Rantie, who shot wide from close range after Mahjoub failed to grasp a cross.
Ndulula tapped the ball into the net from inside the six-yard box on 79 minutes and the closest Sudan came to a consolation goal was a Mohamed Tahir header that rebounded off the post. Defending champions Nigeria and Congo Brazzaville, the other teams in the group, meet on Saturday in Calabar.