Swaziland v South Africa: Mashaba's men eye fresh start after AFCON woes

South Africa return to action for the first time since their Africa Cup of Nations group-stage exit with a friendly against Swaziland.

Ephraim Mashaba will hope for signs of a new beginning when South Africa take on Swaziland - a side he used to coach - in Wednesday's friendly in Mbabane, though not everyone is happy with his squad selection.

It will be Bafana Bafana's first match since suffering a group-stage exit at the Africa Cup of Nations, where they failed to win a match.

Mashaba, who took over in July 2014, saw his side endure a disappointing campaign in Equatorial Guinea, which yielded only a draw against Senegal from three Group C matches.

That was in stark contrast to a qualifying campaign - overseen in its entirety by Mashaba - in which South Africa emerged from a tough group unbeaten, earning a draw away to Nigeria that denied the Super Eagles a spot at the tournament.

Mashaba was in charge of Swaziland - now ranked 163rd in the world - from 2008 to 2010, when wins over minnows Seychelles and Comoros punctuated an otherwise poor set of results.

He has come under fire for his squad picks for the matches against Swaziland and Nigeria, who they face four days later in Nelspruit, with suggestions some players were included under the instruction of South African Football Association president Danny Jordaan.

It is a notion dismissed by the coach, whose 30-man squad includes the uncapped trio of Lebogang Phiri, Thabo Mnayane and Cole Alexander.

But it was the inclusion of  Thulani Serero, May Mahlangu, Ayanda Patosi and Kamohelo Mokotjo that prompted questions over the selection policy.

The foursome had previously been told their international careers were over. Serero was omitted from the squad that went to the AFCON, Mahlangu was banned indefinitely after pulling out of the qualifiers, Patosi was left out after missing his flight for a match against Sudan, and Mokotjo was dismissed by the coach as being too "heavy and sluggish".

Swaziland coach Harries Bulunga's squad features nine players from the Royal Leopards team that recently knocked South African club Bidvest Wits out of the CAF Confederation Cup.

Bulunga will be looking for a string of good results from his team as they gear up for their upcoming appearance in the COSAFA Senior Cup and he looks to get the National Football Association of Swaziland to extend his contract beyond July 31.