BAFANA Bafana has suffered their first defeat in five matches, going down 1-0 to the United States of America in the annual Nelson Mandela Challenge match. The clash took place on Wednesday night, November at the Cape Town Stadium.
Among those in the crowd were State President Jacob Zuma, Minister of Sports Fikile Mbalula and the Premier of the Western Cape Hellen Zille.
Spurred on by a full house of about 50 000) supporters inside this magnificent World Cup venue, the South Africans started like a house on fire. They managed to trouble the USA defence but lacked the finishing touch.
Coach Pitso Mosimane made four changes to the team that drew nil nil against Sierra Leone in Freetown last month after he brought on Kagisho Dikgacoi for Macbeth Sibaya, Siyabonga Sangweni and Morgan Gould replacing the duo of Aaron Mokoena and Bongani Khumalo in central defence. Mosimane also gave England-based Davide Somma his dream debut, coming in for Katlego Mphela. Sibaya and Mokoena have been rested while Khumalo and Mphela are out injured.
Despite being in control of the match, Bafana failed to score.
But a goal five minutes from the final whistle, and against the run of play, gave the visitors a one-nil victory. The goal was scored by 17-year-old second half substitute, Juan Aguledo who was making his debut.
This is Mosimane’s first defeat in four matches in charge – which is also the third time both countries are meeting. South Africa lost the previous two encounters.
“These things happen in football, there will always be a loser and a winner. I can’t go through life thinking that I will not lose. Even though we have lost I am proud of what my boys did out there, and we were on top of them for the better part of the match. But football is a cruel sport and with just five minutes remaining they found the back of the net, and to be honest I did not see it coming because we were in control of the game. I am also glad I managed to give other players a chance so we could see what they have. I was impressed with the little I saw there, at least we have something to work on for the future,” said Mosimane.
The coach made six changes in the second half bringing in Daylon Classen for a hard-working but tired Steven Pienaar who was captain of the side. Andile Jali replaced Kagisho Dikgacoi, Anele Ngcongca made way for Siboniso Gaxa, Matthew Pattison took the place of Thanduyise Khuboni while Sthembiso Ngcobo and Kermit Erasmus were introduced for Somma and Parker respectively.
“Somma has shown me what he is capable of, and you all saw his touches. What this match has taught me is that he is not a kind of player that needs too many touches to the job done, actually he is your “fox in the box” type of player, the kind that just finishes. Once he gets used to our system he will surely be a player to be reckoned with, and even though he did not score I was impressed with how he played in his debut. He looks like he will be an asset,” said the coach.
This is the second time the USA defeat Bafana Bafana in the Nelson Mandela Challenge, having done so in 2007 at Ellis Park.
Meanwhile South Africa has moved up two places on the latest FIFA World rankings released on Wednesday, November 17. Bafana occupies position 50 in the world, but remains on the eleventh spot on the continent. Egypt is back in the top ten in the world at the expense of Russia. Spain, the Netherlands and Brazil retain their top three spots.