Walk in the park for SA

2008-01-14 00:00

AS a warm-up, Bafana Bafana’s 2-0 friendly international victory over Mozambique at Chatsworth Stadium yesterday served its purpose.

The match formed part of Bafana Bafana’s training camp in preparation for the African Cup of Nations in Ghana, which starts on January 20.

Bafana hardly had to over-exert themselves. They stretched their legs against game but ultimately outclassed opposition, did not pick up any serious injuries and did enough to win the game by two clear goals.

South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira started with what must be close to his A team.

The most notable development was that captain Aaron Mokoena was in holding midfield just in front of the defence — where he plays for his club, Blackburn Rovers — rather than central defence. Mamelodi Sundowns defender Benson Mhlongo was at centre-half.

Bafana’s new young full-backs, Tshepo Masilela and Bryce Moon, looked the part. Masilela’s selection shows he has the inside lane on the left, though Brett Evans might have a chance to stake a claim in Bafana’s second warm-up against Botswana on Wednesday.

Perhaps not surprisingly for a team whose training camp was focused on fitness last week, South Africa began the first half patchily but finished growing in strength.

An early header on target by Sibusiso Zuma was balanced by Mozambique forward Daude Machude hitting the side-netting in the 27th minute.

Bafana’s combinations improved after the half-hour, as first Mokoena’s free header from Siphiwe Tshabalala’s corner flew wide, then StevenPienaar missed an open goal after a good run and square-ball by Masilela on the left. Just before the half-time break, Teko Modise’s free-kick went narrowly wide.

Exerting pressure from the restart, it took Bafana 15 minutes to create a clear-cut chance, Masilela again attacking down the left and feeding Zuma to tee up Tshabalala, whose shot was deflected wide. From Tshabalala’s corner, Zuma’ s header was well saved by reserve Mozambique goalkeeper Victor Soanes.

In the 63rd minute the South Africans finally broke through, Modise’s well-floated pass from left midfield finding Zuma free, who turned and finished expertly.

Mozambique, fairly industrious in the first half, became largely anonymous as the match drew to a close, as Parreira gave a run to his substitutes. A few dodgy line calls near the end seemed destined to rob the South Africans of a deserved second.

But a minute into injury time Moon’s cross was met equally by Elrio van Heerden and Soanes, and spilled to Lerato Chabangu to finish into an open goal.

SA open their Afcon campaign against Angola on January 23.

Bafana’s line-up: Fernandez — Moon, Morris, Mhlongo, Masilela — Pienaar (Chabangu 74th), Mokoena, Modise, Tshabalala (70th Van Heerden) — Moriri (h-t Mphela), Zuma (74th Fanteni)

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