Old ghosts haunt Bafana

2008-06-02 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Old ghosts emerged for South Africa at the National Stadium in Abuja yesterday afternoon as Nigeria’s Super Eagles rattled and ran Bafana Bafana ragged in a comprehensive 2-0 World Cup and African Nations Cup victory.

And while the scoreline might not have proved as ignominious for Bafana as the 4-0 drubbing they received from Nigeria in a qualifying game for the 1994 World Cup, the disparity in class between the teams was equally pronounced.

South Africa’s meek-and-mild display was eptomised by the fact that they employed at the outset an ultra-defensive 4-5-1 formation, which appeared more in line with 4-6-0 as supposed striker Surprise Moriri wandered round aimlessly in midfield.

In order for Bafana to achieve their apparent objective of securing a dour draw, it would have been uncompromisingly essential to prevent Nigeria from scoring in the early stages.

But this ploy was blown sky high when Spain-based Ike Uche headed the Super Eagles into the lead in only the 10th minute with a thumping header that beat goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez all ends up.

And any chance Bafana had of salvaging a point from the game seemed to evaporate in the last minute before the interval when defender Obinna Nwaneri produced an almost identical header to that of Uche to make the score 2-0.

And with South African defenders again uniformly flat-footed in the face of danger, the old maxim that “white men can’t jump” could have been adjusted to read “white men and black South Africans can’t jump”.

Nigeria treated much of the second period as though it was an exhibition game and concentrated more on ensuring their two-goal advantage was not dented than increasing their lead.

And yet it was still the Super Eagles who dominated possession and were only prevented from going further ahead by two fearless, point-blank saves from the hard-pressed, obviously agitated Fernandez.

Although the Armenia Bielefeld goalkeeper was something of a surprise selection, he was one of the last players to blame for the desultory performance.

And who could argue with the cynical assessment from new coach Joel Santana’s dismal opening game that Bafana were lucky to get nought?

— Sapa.

World Cup qualifying African zone opening round results from yesterday

Group 3 Angola 3 Benin 0

Group 4 Nigeria 2 South Africa 0

Group 6 Liberia 1 Gambia 1

Group 7 Ivory Coast 1 Mozambique 0

Group 9 Burundi 0 Seychelles 0

Played on Saturday

Group 1 Cameroon 2 Cape Verde Islands 0 Tanzania 1 Mauritius 1

Group 2 Namibia 2 Kenya 1

Group 3 Uganda 1 Niger 0

Group 6 Senegal 1 Algeria 0

Group 7 Botswana 0 Madagascar 0

Group 8 Morocco 3 Ethiopia 0 Rwanda 3 Mauritania 0

Group 11 Togo1 Zambia 0

Group 12 Malawi 8 Djibouti 1

— Reuters.

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