South Africa 0 – 0 Cape Verde

The Africa Cup of Nations began in anti-climactic fashion as South Africa and Cape Verde played out a 0-0 draw in Johannesburg.

Cape Verde started well, soaking up the pressure of the home team as South Africa failed to create a single clear-cut chance in the first half.

As the game wore on, the worried home spectators grew restless and the pressure turned against Bafana.

The home side could not settle down and find any sort of rhythm though, and a long ball style of football appeared to be their downfall, as the game petered out into a disappointing goal-less draw.

Gordon Igesund’s direct and organised style of football might not have excited the fans and neutrals, but you could see that Bafana were a more disciplined outfit than in previous years.

Winger Thuso Phala again showed why he was handed a starting birth, making an immediate impression by tricking Nivaldo, before being hauled down and winning Bafana a free kick in the first minute of the game.

It produced the best moment for the home side as┬áSiphiwe Tshabalala’s free kick found Bongani Khumalo, who headed wide of the post.

Bafana enjoyed the better of the early play, but as they failed to retain possession for any period of time, Cape Verde began to gain a foothold in the contest.

In the 16th minute they gave their hosts an early warning, as Babanco split the SA defence with a brilliant through pass for Platini, but the Santa Clara striker could only drag his shot wide of goal.

After half an hour it was the turn of the home side to threaten, as Tshabalala’s cross found Phala at the back post, but the Platinum Stars midfielder failed to control the ball.

It was end-to-end stuff and Babanco’s corner for Cape Verde was flicked towards the back post by Fernando Neves, but Ryan Mendes could not keep his effort down and it soared over the bar.
Lerato Chabango replaced Dikgacoi at the beginning of the second half, a clear sign that Igesund was ready to take a risk and use his midfield to attack. 

In the 56th minute Bafana Bafana cut through the Islanders defence from the right-wing, as Majoro fed Parker. The Chiefs striker was blocked by Varela, but the ball fell for Tshabalala, whose strike was parried brilliantly by Vozinha.

That proved to be his last opportunity as he was replaced by attacking midfielder Thulani Serero with half an hour remaining.

Lucio Antunes also made his first move, bringing on Julio Tavares for Platini as both coaches searched for a breakthrough.

With Serero on the pitch, Bafana made an immediate impact, as he executed a beautiful reverse-pass, picking out Parker inside the box. Nivaldo was there to intercept and the Cape Verde defence continued to frustrate the home crowd.

In the 71st minute the visitors then nearly silenced Johannesburg as a clever cross from Babanco reached Mendes, whose superb diving header flew just wide of a scrambling Khune.

Captain Khumalo could have won it for South Africa in injury-time with a header from a corner, but it was not to be and Cape Verde held on for a draw their efforts deserved.

by @prolixir.