PMB: Rhoo’s fans wait for their hero in the cold

2008-06-08 00:00

THE South African Under-17 national team paid for numerous missed chances that allowed their Zimbabwean counterparts back into the game to steal a come-from-behind 2-1 friendly victory at the new Wadley Stadium yesterday.

The match formed part of the opening ceremony for the new artificial pitch at the stadium in Edendale, and a good crowd turned out for the free entry televised match, despite the wet, biting cold.

Earlier 2010 World Cup Local Organising Committee chairman Irvin Khoza and Msunduzi mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo opened the new pitch, one of four to be laid countrywide in a R12 million initiative by First National Bank.

The SA U17s for whom the game was part of a series of friendlies they will embark on in preparation for a crucial African Youth Championships qualifier against Malawi in August, dominated play for the first two-thirds of the game.

While their build-ups were impressive, though, the South Africans too often could not produce a quality final pass or finish.

After pressing for most of the first half and hitting the post twice at the beginning of the second, it took a little help from referee Bongani Mpinda for the SA U17s to get on the scoresheet.

Lebohang Moloto and defender Morris Kadzola were tussling for the ball in the Zimabwean area when Mpinda blew for a penalty before Moloto had even gone down.

Impressive Kaizer Chiefs striker Itumeleng Ramokane first hit his shot straight at the ‘keeper, but Mpinda ordered a retake from which Ramokane was successful.

In the final two-thirds of the game, perhaps tired from the exertions of too many wasted attacking initiatives on a heavy, wet artificial pitch, where the bounce of the ball appeared to skid more off the surface than on a normal grass field, the “Amajimbos” faded.

The Zimbabweans suddenly came to life and in the 79th minute substitute Ray Lunga, on just two minutes earlier, slipped the ball through to Ntokozo Zuma in the centre who easily steered his finish past SA goalkeeper Abram Marosha.

Three minutes into injury time, with a penalty shootout beckoning, a poor clearance from a corner fell to Brian Katsaruware 22 metres out, who cracked a skidding shot through the area for the winner.

The SA U17s were unfortunate not to wrap up the game just after the break.

First Ramokane’s backward header hit the right upright, then skilful substitute Menzi Masuku struck the crossbar with a powerful 25-metre drive.

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