Hosts South Africa began their countdown to the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009 by defeating Zambia 1-0 on Tuesday to achieve a record fifth consecutive victory.

Captain Teko Modise settled the Super Stadium friendly by scoring direct from a free-kick on 54 minutes, in a match that was played between two countries lacking their club-tied European-based stars. The diminutive midfielder found a gap in the defensive wall and gave substitute goalkeeper Davy Kaumbua no chance with a curving shot into the corner of the net.

Kaumbua had been on the pitch just four minutes as a replacement for injured Kennedy Mweene, who was kept busy during a first half dominated by South Africa with Mabhuti Khenyeza and Lucas Thwala going closest to scoring. Zambia came close to levelling twice almost immediately after falling behind, with goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune tipping over a Noah Chivuta free kick and Makundika Sakala fluffing a close-range chance.

South Africa, who face Iraq, New Zealand and Spain in the first round of the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009 during June, were worthy winners as they won far more possession and created most of the scoring chances. Victory for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ hosts follows successes over Malawi, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana and Cameroon last year, and will cheer coach Joel Santana ahead of friendlies against Chile, Norway, Portugal and Poland.

The Brazilian, who replaced compatriot Carlos Alberto Parreira last May, had been under pressure when Bafana Bafana (The Boys) failed to qualify for the final 2010 CAF African Cup of Nations qualifiers. Zambia are still in contention for both the African Cup of Nations in Angola and the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and begin their final-round schedule away to African champions Egypt during March.