Still no goals for Bafana Bafana

2009-11-18 00:00

WHILE there were moments, particularly in the first half-hour, where it appeared Bafana Bafana might have got some of their spark back, South Africa drifted to a deflating goalless draw — their second in four days — in their friendly against Jamaica in Bloemfontein last night.

Following their tough workout against a well-organised Japan in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, the South Africans were given more space by the looser Jamaica in their 0-0 draw at the Free State Stadium and created some good chances in the first half-hour.

South Africa have not won since beating New Zealand 2-0 at the Confederations Cup in June, and have scored just six goals in 12 games.

Since Parreira’s return to replace Joel Santana he has found a team low on confidence, form and fitness.

There was some improvement last night from the performance against Japan as the South Africans dominated the weaker, 69th-ranked Reggae Boyz.

But, while there were positives and South Africa started well, Bafana lost their momentum in the later stages of both halves, appearing to confirm Parreira’s assessment that the conditioning of most of the players is not up to standard.

Midfielders Teko Modise and Siphiwe Tshabalala put in better creative performances than they had against Japan. The two are among the players who have not had a break thanks to the Confederations Cup, and both faded in the second half.

Kagisho Dikgacoi was moved back to his more accustomed defensive midfield and looked more comfortable there than at playmaker. Kaizer Chiefs playmaker Reneilwe Letsholonyane was one of Bafana’s livelier players in the first half.

But most promising was the performance of Benni McCarthy, who appeared intent on proving his detractors wrong with a much-improved attacking display. His combination with Katlego Mphela was one of the best Bafana have seen up-front for some time.

The South Africans had a spring in their step in a dominant first-half display.

The home team did have a few nervous moments in defence, notably in the 21st minute when New York Red Bulls wing Dane Richards beat two defenders down the left and put the ball past goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez, with Aaron Mokoena clearing off the line.

Mostly, though, it was the home team who did the attacking from as early as the second minute when Mphela hit the side-netting.

A superb one-two with McCarthy eight minutes later to set up Mphela to see his point-blank shot well saved by goalkeeper Dwayne Miller.

In the 20th minute, Fernandez had to pull off a save from a miscued clearance by Morgan Gould. But Bafana were pressing again six minutes later to earn a free-kick that McCarthy slammed at goal, where Miller was again up to the save.

Bafana continued to play in the Jamaican half, though they faded noticeably towards the end of the first 45 minutes.

The South Africans attempted to step up a gear in the second half and Dikgacoi’s shot blazed over the bar after being teed up by McCarthy in the 68th minute.

But as Parreira rang the changes to give new faces a run, South Africa again lost their momentum, and the game disappointingly drifted to a draw.

The coach’s substitutes included Lance Davids, Richard Henyekane, Elrio van Heerden, Bernard Parker and Daine Klate.

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