Tau magic saves day for SA
Percy Tau came to the country’s rescue again with a dramatic last-gasp equalizer as Bafana Bafana shared the Nelson Mandela Challenge trophy with Paraguay after forcing a 1-1 draw at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Tuesday night.
Paraguay looked to be on their way to handing a young Bafana outfit a lesson in the realities of international football before Tau turned on his magic to score with virtually the last touch of the match.
A pass from Thulani Serero set Tau away to rescue the situation on a wet night in Durban just when it seemed the trophy would be leaving home soil.
The visitors were ahead after just the half hour and twice struck the upright and could well have had the game sealed at halftime.
But Bafana, with a much changed side from Saturday’s clash with Nigeria, took up the invitation to get back in the game, much to the relief of coach Stuart Baxter.
“We played a team that was very aggressive and it was going to school for a lot of our players,” Baxter said afterwards.
“When we learnt, it was pleasing that we gave them problems.
“We mixed it up a bit and we gave as good as we got.”
SA had home hopes up quickly as Tau looked to pick up where he left off against Nigeria on Saturday and forced a fine stop from Paraguay’s veteran goalkeeper Antony Silva in just the second minute.
Tau buzzed around in the beginning and looked to be again displaying his star qualities, inspiring the new Bafana lineup around him.
Baxter kept just four of the starting lineup from Saturday’s game at Soccer City.
But Paraguay did not take long to find their stride and after 15 minutes, Federico Santander hit the upright as he burst through a static defense and rolled the ball past an onrushing Darren Keet, only to see it bounce back into play off the upright.
At the other end there were half chances for Lebo Mothiba, Tau and Vincent Pule, whose long-range effort whistled just wide.
But just past the half-hour mark, Paraguay took the lead as Motjeka Madisha gave the ball away to Celso Ortiz.
Ortiz then set winger Cecilio Dominguez down the flank and his shot was parried by Keet, with Santander on hand to easily tap home.
Bafana could have equalized five minutes later as Teboho Mokoena set up Pule on the left but his striker was parried away by Silva.
Three minutes later, Dominguez hit the upright again from a tight angle with Keet knowing very little about it.
Then Madisha made another horrible error to give Santander another chance to score, but his effort rolled just wide.
The halftime break saw four changes on either side but fresh legs failed to spark the half to life initially.
With about 15 minutes left, Bafana got some combinations going with Tau and substitute Fortune Makaringe coming close to an equaliser.
Tau did have the ball in the net with five minutes to go but he was just offside as Serero threaded through a sharp pass, but minutes later the pair got their timing right to score.
Meanwhile, the SA U17 Women’s national team were knocked out of the Fifa World Cup after a heavy 4-1 defeat to Brazil in their last group match at the Estadio Charrúa in Montevideo on Tuesday night.
The two teams went to the halftime break without scoring but things went pear-shaped for Bantwana as they conceded four goals after the restart from Jheniffer, Julia Daltoe, Amanda and Maria Eduarda.
Bantwana’s problems started early in the second half when Miche Minnies was sent for an early shower after she was judged to have brought down an opposition attacker in the penalty box.
This led to Daltoe increasing the lead from the spot.
Bantwana found the back of the net through Zethembiso Vilakazi but it served as scant consolation as they exited the competition having conceded a whooping 10 goals in their three matches.
Even more worrying for coach Simphiwe Dludlu is the fact that during the three matches, her charges only managed to score one goal and they were dominated in key areas by the opposition who were clearly superior.