Fired-up Bafana alive again

2009-06-18 00:00

BAFANA Bafana are alive and well again on the international stage after their fired-up, slick and skilful 2-0 victory over New Zealand at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg last night that resurrected South Africa’s Confederations Cup semi-final hopes.

Striker Bernard Parker redeemed himself with a brace last night after he had kept out a certain goal on the goal-line for Bafana in their opening 0-0 draw against Iraq,.

The 82nd-ranked Kiwis might have been hopelessly outclassed, but South Africa came into the game under tremendous pressure and rose to the occasion.

Bafana are fortunate to have had a kind draw in the Confed, and one has to feel for a class side like Egypt who may not reach the semis, having been grouped with Italy and Brazil. But a good Confed is the sort of morale-booster South Africa really need ahead of the 2010 World Cup.

The victory leaves Bafana second in Group A on four points behind Spain on six, which will be enough to progress to the semis if Iraq lose or draw against New Zealand.

South Africa will be buoyed by the victory going into their final game against Spain in Bloemfontein on Saturday

After their draw against Iraq, the South African players clearly felt they had let down a big and passionate Ellis Park crowd. They seemed intent not to repeat that last night. New Zealand looked overawed by the pace and skill of the South Africans, and the vociferous home crowd.

Iraq’s narrow 1-0 defeat to Spain in the early game added to the importance of Bafana attacking the New Zealanders in terms of goal difference. Unfortunately, finishing was again the home team’s Achilles heel and they could have won by four or more goals.

Bafana coach Joel Santana made one change from the defensive formation he utilised against Iraq, bringing in Steven Pienaar for defender Benson Mhlongo, to operate in a creative duo with Teko Modise in midfield.

The change worked and from the start South Africa were more offensive, had more shape and the attacking players had more passing options available to them. South Africa also harassed New Zealand at every turn to win possession.

Within the first four minutes Pienaar had pulled the ball back from the right to an unmarked Terror Fanteni, who completely miscued his shot and Teko Modise’s long-range effort slid wide.

In the 10th minute Fanteni had the ball in the net but was narrowly offside when receiving Parker’s pass. Seven minutes later Pienaar’s 20 metre effort was straight at New Zealand goalkeeper Glenn Moss.

In the 21st minute South Africa finally put the ball in the net. Skilful left-back Tsepo Masilela first beat opposite number Dave Mulligan, then patiently teased Ivan Vicelich before picking out Parker, whose shot took a deflection off Andy Boyens into the Kiwi goal.

In the 31st minute Parker saw his shot kept out by the outstretched leg of Moss.

Modise began the second half with two shots from range as Bafana looked to ram home the advantage.

In the 52nd minute it was 2-0 when Masilela again teased Mulligan and crossed from the left for Parker to get a touch into goal.

South Africa drifted little after that and finished the game in a flourish after the introduction of Katlego Mashego for Fanteni, who could have had a second-half hat-trick.

Pushing for goals, with goal difference in mind, Mashego, who was ruled offside incorrectly, forced a save from Moss, saw a close-range shot deflected over goal and stabbed straight at Moss from four metres.

Group A:

Last night: Spain 1 Iraq 0, South Africa 2

New Zealand 0

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