Bafana held to disappointing draw

By Drum Digital
30 May 2014

Bafana Bafana were held to a goalless draw by New Zealand in a friendly in Auckland.

Bafana Bafana made it two from two as they were held to a goalless draw by New Zealand in a friendly in Auckland on Friday.

Having drawn 1-1 with Australia's Socceroos in Sydney on Monday, Bafana could not shake the Kiwis, who played above their lowly 111th world ranking and did just enough to keep out the visiting South Africans.

Gordon Igesund's young squad drew praise from numerous detractors following the successful exercise in Australia, which painted a clearer picture of what South Africa could expect from their young stars for the future.

But in a game that looked set to be Igesund's last in charge, Bafana lacked the cutting edge and had to make do with scraps in front of goal.

Tokelo Rantie was gifted an early chance inside the opening 60 seconds when he slipped through the Kiwis' defence and found himself alone against Glen Moss, but he failed to beat the goalkeeper, who rushed out of his area and met the striker making a good save.

Ayanda Patosi came close soon afterwards but flashed wide before the teams seemed to settle into a comfortable rhythm which rarely kicked into second gear.

The hosts caused problems at the back and had Marco Rojas go close, flashing across the face of goal after some good work in the final third.

The South Africans were pegged back towards the end of the half and were kept on their toes at the back as Tim Payne combined with Rojas and company to trouble the visitors, but were unable to get their shots away.

The best chance of the half as far as the South Africans were concerned fell to Reneilwe Letsholonyane midway through, albeit from an offside position, striking the crossbar after the Kaizer Chiefs midfielder's strike took a touch off Thuso Phala en route to goal.

Level at the break and looking in desperate need of some inspiration, Bafana surged forward but were disappointing in front of goal, as Phala again miscued his attempt five minutes into the second half.

The Whites broke free with a clinical counterattack second later, but a misdirected effort from Tyler Boyd did little to trouble Ronwen Williams.

Hlompho Kekana replied with a free-kick, which he struck well, but could not do enough to get past Moss, who made a straightforward save in the 53rd.

Both teams made a host of changes as the half played out but still neither side looked like scoring. Efforts from Serero and Rantie, both well-constructed in the build-up, were disappointing in the finish.

Substitute Themba Zwane forced the New Zealand defence into a last ditch clearance off the line following a flowing move from the South Africans where Zwane cut inside to get his shot away. It was deflected wide and out for a corner.

Letsholonyane, who was criticised for not wanting to have a go at goal against the Socceroos, unleashed a powerful effort nine minutes from the end, which Moss punched away.

In the end, a disappointing finish for the South Africans, who head home in a reflective mood and face serious questions before the start of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in September -- not least of which, who will replace Igesund in the Bafana hot-seat in the coming weeks?

** Sapa's reporter is in New Zealand as a guest of the SA Football Association.


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