Bafana – so close to glory

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - NKARENG MATSHE

when their fans had started to make the louder noise here.

With Tsha­bal­ala’s goal com­ing with some 35 min­utes re­main­ing, they had all the time to stage a come­back.

Bafana, how­ever, should have done bet­ter to de­fend Rafael Mar­quez’s 79th-minute goal.

On oc­ca­sions such as this, fin­ger-point­ing is not ideal, but we have to ques­tion Aaron Mokoena’s po­si­tional play in the lead up to Mex­ico’s goal.

The cap­tain, part­nered by the fast-im­prov­ing Bon­gani Khu­malo, had done rel­a­tively well up to that point.

But as his team­mates pushed out fol­low­ing Mex­ico’s short corner, Mokoena some­how re­mained be­hind, al­low­ing Mar­quez to reach a cross, trap and fire past Itume­leng Khune.

It was a soft goal to con­cede con­sid­er­ing Bafana had dealt ad­e­quately with more dan­ger­ous at­tempts from the Mex­i­cans, not least in a first half in which the home team were clearly sec­ond best.

As early as the sec­ond minute, Paul Aguilar swung over a cross which Khune could only parry back into play, but Mokoena was on hand to block the dan­ger­ous Car­los Vela’s at­tempt.

Aguilar was eas­ily Mex­ico’s most se­ri­ous threat to Bafana in that one-sided first half, pierc­ing through Lu­cas Th­wala’s de­fences with ease, but Par­reira, thank­fully, de­tected that dan­ger early and or­dered Tsepo Masilela to warm up.

Vela first prof­ited from a Modise mis­take in the heart of mid­field but his shot flew just over Khune’s bar.

The Arse­nal mid­fielder also had a goal dis­al­lowed for off­side be­cause he “scored” when Khune had come off his line and with Bafana only hav­ing a sin­gle man on the goalline.

Mex­ico protested but not for too long, as they had to de­fend soon there­after as Bafana fi­nally came out of their blocks.

It was a pity that Mphela could not get to the end of a bril­liant cross by Tsha­bal­ala, but the lat­ter found a goal him­self 10 min­utes into the sec­ond half.

As Par­reira warned, it came dur­ing one of Bafana’s breaks, with quick in­ter­pass­ing that in­volved Modise and Kag­isho Dik­ga­coi free­ing Tsha­bal­ala to blast the ball im­pres­sively past Os­car Perez.

Soc­cer City erupted, but Bafana failed to find that re­as­sur­ing sec­ond goal when Modise, sent clear by Si­bon­iso Gaxa, could not score amid protests of a penalty by home fans.

Khune, mean­while, kept Bafana ahead with the save of the match to thwart Gio­vani Dos Santos from a tight an­gle.

But Mar­quez’s goal burst Bafana’s bub­ble, al­though they could have had a win­ner when Mphela struck the post from close range 20 min­utes from the end.

WHAM: Siphiwe Tsha­bal­ala scores for South Africa against Mex­ico in yes­ter­day’s World Cup open­ing match in Jo­han­nes­burg.

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