Confidence-booster for Bafana

2010-05-28 00:00

IT might not have been attained in the most fluent manner, and all the goals might have come from spot-kicks, but Bafana Bafana will take a hard-fought 2-1 win over Colombia in a friendly international at Soccer City last night as yet another morale boost ahead of the 2010 World Cup.

The match was characterised by what appeared to be home decisions and generally inauspicious officiating. But with less than two weeks to the World Cup, South Africa will take any victory they can, especially a confidence-boosting win against a classy 35th-ranked opposition.

Colombia had most of the game, but Bafana did show they have fight, and can defend a lead, which could be crucial in the World Cup.

Benni McCarthy was given a second-half run off the bench from the 65th minute, when he was introduced for Surprise Moriri, though was largely anonymous. Steven Pienaar also played his first game since his return from the European season, replacing Thanduyise Khuboni at the break and filling a defensive midfield role.

The South Africans were given a tough time of it in the first half — perhaps a bit tougher than they would have been comfortable with.

The physical Colombians threw themselves into some hard tackles in characteristically South American fashion. They also had some skilful, pacy front-runners who at times scythed loose of the South African challenges.

Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira might not have been too pleased with the ragged nature of the beginning of the match.

The Colombians spurned an early chance when Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune came for a cross and clattered into Jackson Martinez, with Gustavo Ramos hitting the follow-up over the bar.

Both sides opened the scoring via penalties for a 1-1 scoreline at the break. The South Africans’ penalty came in the 17th minute, though was scored controversially.

After Freddy Guarin had handled in the area, Modise’s weakly-taken spot-kick was saved by Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina, but ordered retaken.

The ’keeper had stepped off his line, but only marginally — and Modise was successful with his second effort.

The Colombians equalised just four minutes later when a penalty was awarded to the South Americans after Itumeleng Khune had clattered down Ramos just inside the area, when the dangerous forward had been put through in a one-on-one. Giovanni Moreno netted easily past the Bafana ’keeper.

A minute into first-half injury time Martinez beat two defenders before being stopped in the area by a desperate challenge from Tsepo Masilela. The South Africans ended the half looking stretched.

Pienaar was joined as a substitute after the break by Kagisho Dikgacoi for Reneilwe Letsholonyane, and Moeneeb Josephs for Khune, who limped off having not fully recovered from the clash with Martinez.

Josephs, likely to be Khune’s number two at the World Cup, made a string of outstanding saves in the second half, particularly in the last 10 minutes, to show Bafana have good depth at goalkeeper for the tournament.

Bafana were largely in control of the first 20 minutes of the first half and engineered a lead in the 58th minute, again from the penalty spot. After a good run, Katlego Mphela fed Siphiwe Tshabalala on his inside and the winger was tackled on his heels going for a shot.

Mphela stepped up to bury the penalty in more convincing fashion than Modise’s earlier effort.

The Colombians piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser and had their chances, including two venomous strikes from range by substitute Hugo Rodallega that were kept out by Josephs, but the South Africans absorbed the pressure well enough and held on for victory.

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