BAFANA, KIWIS IN STALEMATE
By: Ndumiso Nxumalo
South Africa played to a goalless draw against New Zealand in a tight encounter at the Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland on Friday morning.
Gordon Igesund made a few changes to his side that impressively held World Cup-bound Australia to a 1-1 draw on Monday, including Rowen Williams in place of Senzo Meyiwa in goal. Anele Ngcongco captained the side. But it made little difference as Bafana could only muster a draw for the 10th time in Igesund’s reign.
Early in the first half Bafana made a clear chance when Tikelo Rantie rushed his shot when one-on-one with New Zealand Glen Moss, who reacted well and saved Rantie’s shot.
A nice football display in the 16th minute nearly paid off when Ayanda Patosi dribbled past Kiwi defenders before firing wide. At the other end of the field, a defensive error by Ngcongca nearly handed a goal to Andrew Durante, but he dragged his shot across the face of the goal.
Bafana came close to taking the lead when Yeye fired a cracker from 20 yards out, but the ball cannoned into the crossbar in the 30th minute. A great cross by Thabo Mokeke moment later from the left flank was half-cleared and the ball bobbled to Rantie. However, he failed to connect well with his attempted volley.
Solid defending by Bafana regularly put an end to promising New Zealand counter-attacks, which would have pleased the team’s technical staff.
In the second half, Thuso Phala had a great chance to put the visitors on in the lead but he chose to shot from a tight angle instead of passing to the awaiting players in the box. Not long afterwards, Phala couldn’t connect with a good Patosi cross, and the score remained goalless.
The Kiwis played a nice quick counter attack but Boyd hit his shot into the side netting in the 52nd minute, before Mamelodi Sundowns man Hlompho Kekana had a free-kick saved by Moss.
Although the match showcased some nice football, none of the teams were able to find a winning goal.
With over a great number of youngsters in the Bafana squad, it was a promising display by South Africa and seemed as a solid foundation to build on.