‘Killer’ goal does it for Mosimane

2010-08-12 00:00

PITSO Mosimane’s reign as Bafana coach started with a touch of tenacity, a sprinkle of skill and plenty of pace at Soccer City last night as his side disposed of a disappointing Ghana by the odd goal in an international friendly.

Bafana’s first half display promised much, but they waited until the 43rd minute to deliver the goal that their enterprise deserved.

Katlego Mphela — now worth upwards of R13 million if gossip mongers are to be believed — has become increasingly influential in the national side.

Pace is a priceless commodity at the sharp end of international sport, and Mphela’s freakish bursts are now a fundamental part of Bafana’s arsenal.

Three times last night, the Sundowns ace simply surged past the startled Ghana defence to fire shots at Richard Kingson.

On the third occasion, after an expert slide rule ball from a rejuvenated Steven Pienaar, ‘Killer’ coolly slotted past Kingson for a well-deserved 17th international goal.

It was as early as the first minute that Bafana showed their intentions, with Mphela — who else — firing wide to greet the visitors.

With Pienaar thriving in a roaming role in the heart of the midfield, Bafana’s play had a fluidity that seemed to startle Africa’s best performers at “that” global competition held just the other day.

With a new coach at the helm, Bafana were bound to have a spring in their step, but Ghana’s pedestrian display was a bit of a surprise.

Chelsea lynchpin Michael Essien gave this one a miss, and it seems a few of his mates at a half-full Soccer City thought they should have done the same.

Itumeleng Khune, who had plenty to think about in his last, ill-fated appearance against Uruguay, simply boosted the attendance figures as Bafana held court in midfield.

Siphiwe Tshabalala, roving all over the park with Pienaar, put Mphela through on four minutes, but Kingson’s quick thinking snuffed out the danger.

Encouragingly, fullbacks Tsepo Masilela and Anele Ngcongca showed a refreshing urgency to overlap and capitalise on the vast spaces left by the roaming duo of Tshabalala and Pienaar.

Kingson’s face was Ghana’s saviour on the quarter-hour mark as Mphela latched on to another Tshabalala through ball.

Mphela may have stolen the headlines, but it was the peerless Pienaar who was Bafana’s heartbeat. This was the player whom Bafana fans craved during the World Cup, full of verve, vision and a fair dose of delightful “diski”.

If his touches weren’t setting his strikers up, they were bamboozling the Ghanaians.

His precise pass for the goal was a touch of class, and he did it again on 53 minutes, but Bernard Parker was wasteful with his cross.

The severely neglected Khune was finally called into action in the 64th minute, and he had to be wide awake to hold on to a rasping drive after a clever pull-back from skipper Asamoah Gyan.

The inevitable rush-hour traffic from the substitutes’ benches stymied the pace somewhat, but by then Bafana had come to the party that Mosimane had cordially invited them to.

Ghana’s standout players from a month ago were poor last night, with Asamoah Gyan contributing more when introducing his team to dignitaries than he did on the pitch.

Even the dashing Dede Ayew was subdued, so Bafana’s display has to be put into perspective. This was not the pride of Africa on display, but simply tourists honouring an obligation.

Sterner tests surely lie ahead for Mosimane and his charges, but there were enough signs last night to suggest that they are on the right track.

As they say, a new broom certainly sweeps clean.

 

INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY RESULTS:

Denmark 2 Germany 2

Ukraine 1 Netherlands 1

England 2 Hungary 1

Rep of Ireland 0 Argentina 1

Norway 2 France 1

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