Chile hand SA a lesson

2009-02-11 00:00

BAFANA Bafana were handed lessons that are sure to stand them in good stead at the June Confederations Cup, in a 2-0 friendly international defeat against Chile at a packed Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane last night.

The defeat ended a five-match winning streak for South Africa that was probably a little flattering anyway, because it came against relatively easy teams apart from a 3-2 victory over a strong Cameroon.

Of course, every match counts in establishing a pool of players to chose from at the Confed Cup and for next year’s World Cup, but last night’s convincing defeat served more purpose than victories over teams like Malawi and Zambia with second-string Bafana combinations.

Former Argentina coach Marcelo Bielsa’s Chile side are a slick and forceful combination, and gave South Africa the sort of workout they should expect at the Confed.

Areas that South Africa coach Joel Santana needs to work on were at times glaringly exposed last night, which is a positive and what is needed ahead of the Confed Cup — though perhaps that is a stage of the process South Africa should have been at some six months ago.

Certainly the Confed hosts need to tighten up their play markedly in all areas before the 2010 precursor kicks off in just four months on June 14.

Too often Bafana gave the ball away when the Chileans closed down the spaces. Against the pace and physical strength of the South Americans, Bafana needed to retain possession and dazzle, but too many passes went astray. Both goals came from poor defending by the home team.

South Africa need more games of this standard, and will hopefully continue to show improvement in the friendlies they have lined up against Norway, Portugal and Poland.

Dangerous Chilean forward Mark Gonzalez had the first chance of the game when, after controlling a long pass from midfield, the South African-born player turned and saw his shot deflected wide.

Huberto Suazo’s shot, which was going wide anyway, was palmed for a corner by goalkeeper Calvin Marlin in the 22nd minute, and Chile’s top scorer shot straight at the Marlin four minutes later.

Bafana also had their chances in the half, with midfielder Lefa Tsutsulupa’s long-range effort blazing over the bar, and Benni McCarthy getting plenty of power on his header from Teko Modise’s free-kick, but straight at goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.

Poor defending saw the South Americans take the lead when Aaron Mokoena weakly cleared a cross and the ball fell to midfielder Jorge Valivia on the edge of the area, whose shot screamed into the top-left corner.

South Africa started the second half in more urgent fashion and Teko Modise’s effort from the edge of the area went just wide.

In an excellent passage, substitute Bernard Parker beat his marker on the left, and first his, then Modise’s acute shots were saved by Bravo, the rebound falling to Kagisho Dikgacoi, who forced a third save.

Chile showed their danger at set pieces when Matias Fernandez’s free-kick shaved the crossbar.

The visitors did make it 2-0 in the 67th minute with weak defence by Bafana again the culprit.

South Africa failed to clear a bouncing ball to allow Alexis Sanchez to steam through and finish easily past Marlin.

A point-blank save by Marlin to keep out Suazo’s header kept the deficit at two.

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