A howler from Itumeleng Khune and an out of sort Bafana Bafana defence saw the 10-man Bafana Bafana embarrassed by Mauritania in an Africa Cup of Nations encounter on Saturday evening leaving Bafana Bafana with only one point from two games against lowly ranked Gambia and Mauritania.
Going into the match on the back of goalless draw against Gambia at home, Mashaba knew the importance of getting back to winning ways and put the qualification back on track.
But two big moments meant South Africa would find the going tough in blazing heat in Mauritania.
First, captain Itumeleng Khune gifted the hosts with an easy goal before debutant Siyabonga Zulu was given the red card soon after resumption after he was adjudged to have committed a professional foul.
The hosts were the first to threaten in the very first minute but captain and goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune pushed the cross to safety.
Mauritania took the lead in the 5th minute when Khune was beaten by a long range shot, slipped out of Khune’s hands into the net. That was an early and unexpected setback for Bafana Bafana who sat back in the opening minutes.
Much as Khune’s howler was unexpected, the visitors really struggled in stifling heat and hardly conjured up any opening in the opening 45 minutes.
For most of the first half, it was the home team which looked comfortable on the ball and created a handful of gilt-edged chances.
Bafana Bafana then suffered a huge setback moments into the second half when Siyabonga Zulu was shown the red card for what the Senegalese referee deemed a professional foul meaning South Africa had to play the entire second half with 10 men.
In the 65th minute, substitute Bongani Zungu who came in for Dean Furman could have done better when he ballooned the ball over the bar from inside the box with only the keeper to beat.
There was a glimmer of hope in the 69th minute when Thamsanqa Gabuza headed the ball into the net when he responded ahead of two defenders to make it 1-1.
Moments later, Gabuza made a run on the right before making a telling cross on the 73rd minute but the hosts defence stood firm.
Despite being a man down, it was the visitors who showed great urgency and purpose but the disadvantage of a man down meant they could not pour forward and leave gaps at the back. And it had to tell when Mulomowandau Mathoho was left for the dead by Babacar Bagili who slotted the ball past Khune.
It was soon 3-1 when Diakite Ismael weaved past the entire South African defence before slotting the ball past Khune.
Bafana starting XI: Khune, Anele Ngcongca, Coetzee, Mathoho, Siyabonga Zulu, Jali, Furman, Serero, Masango, Gabuza, Rantie
Subs: Mabokgwane, Daniels, Zungu, Mashaba, Makola, Patosi, Vilakazi