JOHANNESBURG - With 12 days to go before the Africa Cup of Nations, Bafana Bafana head into the continental showdown battle-tested after their 1-0 victory over Zambia.
Coach Shakes Mashaba said Sunday's game at Orlando Stadium was important to gauge the readiness of the South African side.
"As a team we needed to know how far we are. It was a good game where we were tactically superior," he said.
"Unfortunately, we couldn't finish off the goals that we wanted to score."
Also read: Bafana beat Zambia in Orlando
The South Africans edged their neighbours thanks to an 80th minute strike from Thuso Phala, ensuring a positive send-off ahead of the team's departure on Tuesday for a pre-tournament camp in Gabon.
Mashaba praised his team for showing resilience to grab a late winner against the 2012 Afcon champions.
"It was a question of pride. Zambia were very determined to come and break our momentum. They didn't hold back and brought the game to us."
Phala came on as a substitute in the second half to snatch the winner after an assist from Sibusiso Vilakazi in the box.
With the victory Bafana continued their unbeaten streak under coach Mashaba which now stands at five wins and three draws since he took charge in August.
While the results filled the team with confidence, Mashaba felt they still needed to work on their fitness in the lead-up to their first Afcon match against Algeria at the Estadio de Mongomo on January 19.
"Fatigue took its toll on the players in the latter stages of the match.
"I think Zambia gave their best. We should have scored another two goals but it was not meant to be in the end for us."
Bafana have been drawn against Algeria, Ghana and Senegal, in what is considered to be one of the toughest groupings in the tournament.
Zambian coach Honour Janza complimented the South Africans for putting up a good fight against his team.
"They (Bafana) did what they had to do. They played well and they were fast on the counter which is what we expected," Janza said.
He also reserved praise for his Chipolopolo side which held its own against the in-form Bafana.
The Zambians are in group B, pitted against Tunisia, Cape Verde and DR Congo.
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