Superb Siphiwe earns Bafana a draw
Superb Siphiwe earns Bafana a draw
Bafana Bafana produced a disciplined and committed performance to earn a 1-1 draw with Mexico in the opening match of the 2010 Fifa World Cup at a packed Soccer City Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg, on Friday afternoon. A late goal from Rafael Marques deprived the hosts of victory in front of more than 84 000 vuvuzela blowing fans after a brilliant 55th minute strike from Siphiwe Tshabalala (pictured) had put Bafana 1-0 ahead.
Despite not being able to secure a win however, Bafana can be well pleased with their efforts against the 17th ranked Mexicans who went into the match as favourites. The hosts played with a lot of passion and determination for the duration of the 90 minutes and all the hard work they have put into their preparation for the global spectacle has cleary paid off …
Although Mexico had the better of the opening 45 minutes Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was an inspirational force for his team, making a number of critical saves that kept them in the game. Khune was often tested by the Mexican strikers who were given too much room by the Bafana defenders, earning them the wrath of head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira who screamed out instructions from the sidelines.
Khune was under pressure early, palming away a shot from right wing Paul Aguilar after just two minutes and then a saving another screamer from the Mexican 18 minutes later. Mexico ‘keeper Oscar Perez, although not nearly as busy as Khune in the opening half, nevertheless showed his class by denying Katlego Mphela on 23 minutes as both teams struggled fo find the opener.
Mexican dangerman Giovanni dos Santos forced Khune to pull off the save of the half in the 32nd minute when he threw his body in front of a close range shot, while striker Carlos Vela had a goal disallowed for offside six minutes later. Kagisho Dikgacoi then gave the Mexicans a scare when he headed over the crossbar on the stroke of half time after a series of corners.
Bafana were a different side after the restart as they switched from a primarily defensive strategy to an offensive one, although Parreira did replace defender Lucas Thwala with the more experienced Tsepo Masilela in an effort to counter Aguilar’s attacks down the right flank.
With 10 minutes gone in the second half and with the teams still deadlocked, it was evident that something special was going to be needed to break the stalemate and it was left to the dimunitive Tshabalala to provide the fireworks. Collecting the ball on the left, Tshabalala cut inside and blasted the ball into the top right hand corner of the net to put the hosts 1-0 ahead and send the crowd into a frenzy.
Clearly shocked at being 1-0 down, Mexico tried desperately to level matters and the courageous Khune was again called in to action when he denied Dos Santos for a second time after 60 minutes. With their confidence soaring Bafana began to settle down and take charge of the game by retaining possession and playing to their strengths.
The South Africans could have gone 2-0 up in the 70th minute when Teko Modise sprinted into the Mexican penalty area but as he was about to unleash a shot, Mexican defender Francisco Rodriquez stuck out a foot to thwart his effort. With the clock winding down and Mexico still searching for an equaliser, it seemed as though a dream start for the host nation was going to be a reality. However, with just 11 minutes of normal time left, the Mexicans threw a spanner in the works by punishing a defensive error from Bafana to level matters.
A free kick from Vela found Marques unmarked at the far post and the Barcelona ace made no mistake from close range to blast the ball past a despairing Khune to make it 1-1. Bafana almost hit back two minutes later when right back Siboniso Gaxa tested Perez with a snaking drive that the Mexican ‘keeper did well to save. Mphela then nearly pulled off a win for the hosts when he struck the post in the last minute as the South Africans threw everything at their opponents in search of victory.
Despite not being able to secure a win, Bafana proved they are going to be a force to be reckoned with during the tournament and in the near future. ‘The Boys’ are now unbeaten in 13 matches under Parreira’s tutorship and what makes Friday’s result so special was Bafana’s determination to keep on fighting despite being comprehensively outplayed in the first half.
It was this fighting spirit that enabled them to take the lead in the second half and eventually hold on for a draw after Mexico netted the equaliser. If Bafana can keep on producing similar performances in their remaing Group A matches against Uruguay and France then they stand an excellent chance of making it through to the second round of the competition later this month.
“The draw was a fair result. I think this group is very tough. The team that gets four points will qualify,” said Parreira. “I praised my team. We could have won the game but the result was fair,” he added. Mexico coach Javier Aguirre remarked: “Their goal changed the match a lot. I wouldn’t say we got nervous but a little bit anxious. We tried to change our play and we managed to draw but it wasn’t enough. We have to praise our opponents.”
Bafana play two-time world champions Uruguay at Loftus in Pretoria on Wednesday night. Kick-off is at 8.30pm.
Gyan gets Ghana off to perfect start
Ghana’s hopes of reaching the second round of the World Cup received a massive boost at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria yesterday when they defeated Serbia 1-0 in their opening Group D match. An 85th-minute penalty by Asamoah Gyan (pictured) was enough to secure the three points after a handball by Zdravko Kuzmanovic.
Serbia were always struggling after Aleksandar Lukovic was sent-off for a second bookable offence in the 74th minute. In a match that produced few chances, Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic and Serbia captain Dejan Stankovic combined to cut down a threatening Prince Tagoe, but Gyan blasted the 25-yard free-kick over the bar after just four minutes of play.
Eleven minutes later Nikola Zigic almost turned a Kwadwo Asamoah cross into his own net before the Udinese player set up centre-back John Mensah from a free-kick only for the Sunderland centre-back to head over the bar. Gyan was then barely an inch away from converting an inswinging Kevin-Prince Boateng cross from six yards before Serbia’s Aleksandar Kolarov curled a free-kick just over the cross bar.
Other Fifa World Cup results (From left to right; African teams in bold)
Uruguay 0 – France 0
Argentina 1 – Nigeria 0
South Korea 2 – Greece 0
England 1 – USA 1
Algeria 0 – Slovenia 1
Germany 4 – Australia 0
Upcoming games (African teams in bold)
Netherlands vs Denmark – Soccer City – 1.30pm
Japan vs Cameroon – Bloemfontein – 4pm
Italy vs Paraguay – Cape Town – 8.30pm
New Zealand vs Slovakia – Rustenburg – 1.30pm
Ivory Coast vs Portugal – Port Elizabeth – 4pm
Brazil vs North Korea – Ellis Park – 8.30pm
Honduras vs Chile – Nelspruit – 1.30pm
Spain vs Switzerland – Durban – 4pm
South Africa vs Uruguay – Pretoria Accommodation – 8.30pm
France vs Mexico – Polokwane – 8.30pm
Greece vs Nigeria – Bloemfontein – 4pm
Argentina vs South Korea – Soccer City – 1.30pm
Other Sports – Weekend results
Saturday, New York
1. Mbulaeni Mulaudzi (SA), 1:44.38
2. Nick Symmonds (US), 1:45.05
3. Alfred Yego (Kenya), 1:45.46
West Indies vs South Africa
First Test, Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain
Scores in brief
South Africa, first innings: 352 all out (AB De Villiers 68, Mark Boucher 69, Sulieman Benn 5/120)
West Indies, first innings: 102 all out (Shivnarine Chanderpaul 26, Narsingh Deonarine 29, Dale Steyn 5/29)
South Africa, second innings: 206/4 declared (Graeme Smith 90, Jacques Kallis 40)
West Indies, second innings: 293 (Chris Gayle 73, Dwaye Bravo 49)
Result: South Africa won by 163 runs and lead the three match series 1-0.
South Africa vs France (One off test)
Saturday, Newlands, Cape Town
South Africa 42 – Tries: Pierre Spies, Gio Aplon (2), Gurthro Steenkamp, Francois Louw. Conversions: Morné Steyn (3) and Ruan Pienaar. Penalties: Steyn (3).
France 17 – Tries: Aurelia Rougerie, Marc Andreu. Conversions: Morgan Parra, David Skrela. Penalty: Parra.