Wasteful Bafana held in thrilling stalemate

GETTING A LEG UP: Bafana Bafana defender Diamond Thopola, right, and Angola’s Natael Masuekama tangle during their international friendly match at the Buffalo City Stadium in East London last night Picture: GALLO IMAGES
GETTING A LEG UP: Bafana Bafana defender Diamond Thopola, right, and Angola’s Natael Masuekama tangle during their international friendly match at the Buffalo City Stadium in East London last night
Picture: GALLO IMAGES

SA extend unbeaten run to 17 in friendly against gutsy Angola

Bafana Bafana extended their unbeaten run to 17 matches last night when they were held to an exciting 0-0 draw by Angola in an international friendly at the Buffalo City Stadium in East London.

The encounter proved to be a game of two halves as Angola dominated in the first half, while the home side came back strongly after the break.

Bafana made nine changes from the side that beat Guinea-Bissau 3-1 in Durban at the weekend with nine of the players in the starting XI playing in the Premier Soccer League.

The home side had their first chance five minutes into the game when Phakamani Mahlambi combined well with Percy Tau but the Mamelodi Sundowns man failed to pick a teammate in the box.

Angola winger Manuel David Afonso was a constant threat on the left and managed to get the better of debutant Diamond Thopola a couple of times in the first half.

The slow Angola defenders could not deal with the pacey Bafana forwards as they committed a number of fouls deep in their own half. But the home side failed to capitalise from the set pieces.

The visitors who had the first shot of target when captain Adriano Nicolau cut back inside from the left but shot straight at Darren Keet, who made a routine save.

Minutes later, Keet had to dive to his left to stop a Herenilson do Carmo curler which was destined for the back of the net.

Angola were the better side in the first half as they played in the right areas while Bafana could not hold on to the ball and were forced back in their own half.

Caretaker coach Owen da Gama introduced his more experienced campaigners in Ramahle Mphahlele, Keagan Dolly, Thulani Serero and Themba Zwane in place of Lebohang Manyama and debutants Thopola, Luther Singh and Mahlambi immediately after the break.

The changes seemed to give Bafana confidence as they played better with Tau making some purposeful runs behind the Angolan defenders.

With fans fully behind Bafana, the team took control and dictated the pace of the game.

The first shot on target for Bafana came from Dolly but keeper Adilson da Cruz made a good save.

The home fans, who packed the stadium to capacity, were up on their feet thinking Bafana had found the opener when Dolly’s low cross deflected off Bartolomeu Quissanga and hit the side netting.

On the other side, Angola midfielder Augusto Quibeto saw his long-range shot just go over the bar, but Keet seemed to have the shot covered.

Tau, who played his socks off, was replaced by Kermit Erasmus as Da Gama searched for his second consecutive win.

Erasmus almost made an immediate impact but his long range effort went over the bar.

Bafana had a chance to steal the game in the 90th minute when the Angolan keeper gave possession away instead of clearing the ball, but Erasmus was quickly closed down and did not have a chance to shoot into the open net.

The keeper also denied Rivaldo Coetzee in stoppage time after he connected with an Erasmus free kick but the keeper tipped the ball over the bar for a corner kick.

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