A much-changed South Africa scored in the dying seconds to claim a deserved 1-1 draw with South American visitors Paraguay in their Nelson Mandela Challenge clash at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Tuesday.
Bologna forward Federico Santander scored the opening goal of the game in the first half as both sides spurned further chances in wet and slippery conditions.
It took until the third minute of injury-time at the end of the game for the home side to equalise when talisman Percy Tau beat the offside trap and slotted the ball home.
South Africa coach Stuart Baxter handed a start to goalkeeper Darren Keet, as well as defenders Motkeja Madisha and Innocent Maela, young midfielder Teboho Mokoena and forward Vincent Pule in what was a side with seven changes from the side that drew with Nigeria at the weekend.
Bafana Bafana had an early opportunity when Tau danced his way into the box and unleashed a left-footed shot that was beaten away by Paraguay goalkeeper Antony Silva.
More good play involving Tau, Pule and Lebo Mothiba saw another chance spurned for the home side before the visitors were inches away from taking the lead.
Giant Paraguay striker Santander beat the offside trap with a brilliantly-timed run and he slipped the ball past an advancing Keet, but the ball trickled onto the post and away to safety.
Tau burst towards the visitors’ box again but his curling shot was weak and easy for Silva, and minutes later Mothiba and Tau both had half-chances that went abegging on the wet surface.
But Bafana were giving away possession far too easily and it was one of these stray balls out of defence from Madisha that allowed Paraguay to take the lead. Keet could only parry a low shot into the path of Santander and he had the easiest of tap-ins from six yards.
South Africa almost hit back straight away when Mokoena’s delightful pass behind the Paraguay defence was perfect for Pule, but his effort was well-saved by Silva.
The visitors were close to doubling their advantage five minutes before half-time when Cecilio Domínguez danced his way past two defenders and thundered the ball onto the post.
Madisha’s horror-night continued when his poor back-pass gave Santander a free run on goal but the big forward flashed his shot across the target.
At the other end, Tau put Pule through on goal again, but the forward saw his shot blocked and Paraguay went into the break with the lead.
Both sides made a host of changes at the break, with Bafana bringing on four players — goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, defender Buhle Mkhwanazi, midfielder Fortune Makaringe and striker Dino Ndlovu for Keet, Madisha, Tiyani Mabunda and Mothiba.
Tau could not convert a half-chance early in the half, while at the other end Miguel Almirón found himself in space on the right-hand side of the box but put his effort off target.
There was a worrying sight for Kaizer Chiefs fans ahead of Saturday’s Soweto Derby against Orlando Pirates when right-back Ramahlwe Mphahlele limped off with what looked like a groin issue.
Fabián Balbuena headed over from a corner for Paraguay, while Almirón was fortunate not to receive a red card for a wild hack on Thulani Serero that surely would have seen him sent off in a competitive fixture.
Tau had the ball in the back of the net, but he was correctly ruled offside, before his moment came when an excellent pass from Serero sent him one-on-one with the keeper again and this time he provided a neat finish.