Bafana played like men possessed

2010-06-22 16:30

Eish! It was a case of so near, yet so far for Bafana as they were

knocked out of the 2010 Fifa World Cup despite their 2-1 victory over France

this afternoon.

It was not meant to be as Mexico and Uruguay advanced from the

group after the latter won 1-0 in Rustenburg.

Bafana went into the game needing to score an avalanche of goals

but despite playing with a one-man advantage from the first half they could not

score the required number of goals.

But they bowed out in style with their first victory over France

which is a consolation prize for their efforts and finished third ahead of

France who are going home with only a single point.

Bafana put up a brave fight and played like men possessed but just

came short on the required number of goals.

They needed to win by a three-goal margin and the two goals by

Bongani Khumalo and Katlego Mphela were not enough to derail Mexico from the

second spot, although they finished on the same number of points: four.

Mphela was deservedly named man of the match for his outstanding

display as he twice came close to doubling his goal tally but was first denied

by the crossbar and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in the 53rd and 84th minutes,

respectively.

Coach Carlos Parreira made five changes – two forced – to the team

that lost to Uruguay last week when he started with Moeneeb Josephs and Macbeth

Sibaya in places of suspended Itumeleng Khune and Kagisho Dikgacoi. He finally

dropped Teko Modise, Siboniso Gaxa and Reneilwe Letsholonyane and brought in

Thanduyise Khuboni, Anele Ngcongca and Bernard Parker in an effort to take the

game to France.

Khuboni and Sibaya, playing their first World Cup game, were

outstanding in the middle of the park as they controlled the proceedings and

kept France’s danger men Franck Ribery and Alou Diarra at bay.

France came to this game in disarray after they refused to train on

Sunday afternoon protesting the sacking of striker Nicolas Anelka from the camp

by coach Raymond Domenech.

The 1998 world champions were there for the taking as Domenech also

made four changes to the team. It was not surprising that he dropped captain

Patrice Evra after reports that he instigated Sunday’s no-show.

Referee Oscar Ruiz did not make things any better for them as he

showed striker Yoann Gourcuff a straight red card after he elbowed Sibaya in the

23rd minute.

This was shortly after Khumalo had given Bafana a lead with a

header three minutes earlier from a Siphiwe Tshabalala’s corner kick.

Bafana capitalised on their one-man advantage and went for the kill

when Mphela easily slotted home Tsepo Masilela’s cross in the 37th minute.

France nearly pulled one back through Franck Ribery’s free kick but

Josephs tipped over for a corner.

The introduction of Thierry Henry and Florent Malouda in the second

half gave France an edge over Bafana as they both used their experience to good

effect. They kept Bafana’s defence busy as they took the game to the host.

Malouda pulled one back in the 70th minute to the disappointment of the

crowd.

Needing a convincing victory to claim a place in the knock-out

stages Bafana came off the blocks from the onset as they took the game to

France. With the vociferous crowd urging them on, they responded well and gave

the supporters who descended on this venue a value for their money with a

heartening display.

The introduction of crowd favourite Siyabonga Nomvethe for Parker

late in the game brought the stadium to a standstill as the Moroka Swallows

marksman used his pace to unlock the France defence.

Even when they did not make it to the last 16 Bafana left with

their pride intact and can look to the future with hope.

 

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