Bafana earn tough victory

2008-01-17 00:00

IT was described by Bafana Bafana assistant coach Pitso Mosimane as a “local derby”, and the national team’s 2-1 victory over Botswana at King Zwelitini Stadium yesterday in their final warm-up for the African Nations Cup did often resemble such a game.

Botswana are nicknamed “the Zebras”, but yesterday at times they played more like camels. The defence-minded visitors utilised five defenders and sat with 10 men behind the ball whenever Bafana were in possession.

Botswana also at times went into the challenge with overzealousness, which resulted in Bafana captain and key defensive midfielder Aaron Mokoena being stretchered off and two red cards to the visitors.

South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, though, was pleased with the serious approach of the opposing team, saying it was good preparation for the physical reception Bafana are likely to receive at the Nations Cup in Ghana, which starts on Sunday.

After the game, Parreira said he did not think Mokoena’s injury to be “that serious”. The concern over the SA captain was compounded by first choice goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez sitting in the stands with his left hand strapped up. Parreira said it is “very possible” Fernandez will miss South Africa’s opener against Angola on Wednesday next week, but should return for their second game against Tunisia.

Stand-in Moeneeb Josephs had a quiet evening between the posts, with Bafana camping in the Botswana half. Left-back Tshepo Masilela was rested due to injury, and made way for Brett Evans, the only other change made by Parreira from Sunday’s 2-0 victory over Mozambique.

The coach said that while the physical approach of Botswana was good preparation, the style of play was completely different from what Bafana should expect in Ghana, where their opponents will attack them.

“There was not even a single moment that it was a friendly game, and this is what we are going to face there [in Ghana]. Botswana played as if it was the World Cup, which was good for us.

“We controlled the whole game, were around the [Botswana] box the whole game and our ’keeper did not make one save. We only slipped once with the one goal and we created many chances.

“This was a much better game than the one we played against Mozambique and I am happy with the attitude of the whole team.”

The coach did sound a warning about the soft goal conceded. “We cannot control a game and then concede a goal from one chance to the other team.”

Bafana’s chances in the first half fell mostly to the ever-reliable Sibusiso Zuma, who had three shots on target — in the sixth, 23rd and 39th minutes — and one centimetres wide in the 34th. Teko Modise’s 24th-minute effort from range sailed just over the bar.

Man-of-the-match Bryce Moon got the breakthrough in the 41st minute. Steven Pienaar’s cross from the left was not cleared by the Botswana defence, Moon latching onto the bouncing ball and blasting in from the right, via a deflection.

With the match one-way traffic, Bafana conceded a soft goal in the 53rd minute. Dipsy Selolwane’s cross from deep was easily headed in by Moemedi Mothlaoping, whose run into the area was not picked up.

In the 83rd minute, substitute Lerato Chabangu darted down the right of the Botswana area, beating goalkeeper Modiri Marumo with a hard cross for Zuma to head in the winner.

Selolwane’s crude challenge on Mokoena in the 63rd minute saw the Santos forward sent off. In the 90th minute a similar tackle by Boitumelo Mafoko on Moon produced another red card.

The match was played in light rain on a wet field.

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