Friday, June 26, 2009

Confederations Cup Semifinal Match Report: Brazil 1 - 0 South Africa

South Africa put up a world-class performance, but went down to a late goal in a 1-0 defeat to Brazil in Confederations Cup semifinal defeat at the Coca Cola Park Stadium on Thursday night.

There are 67 FIFA rankings between the two sides, but you wouldn’t have thought it as the home side put up a performance which tested the star-studded South American champions to the fullest and bodes really well for the future.

Joel Santana and team did South Africa proud - Image from Associated Press

South Africa put up a wonderful showing in the first half, throughout the game for that matter – dedication was shown in winning the ball back and spaces were quickly closed down on a consistent basis, ensuring that Brazil’s chances were limited.

Not only were the likes of Kaka, Robinho and Luis Fabiano kept under wraps, but South Africa had several good moments in attack, keeping the ball well at times, in general giving as good as they got against a world class unit.

A Selecao had to wait until the 11th minute for their first chance of the game when Ramires tested Ithumeleng Khune with a dipping shot from 20-yards out, but the Chiefs keeper got down well to make a comfortable save.

Two minutes later the home side had their first chance, showing they were prepared to match the South Americans blow for blow as the impressive Siboniso Gaxa won a challenge before flashing a shot just wide.

Bafana continued to look solid at the back and had a great chance to open the scoring in the 21st minute when a Teko Modise picked out Aaron Mokoena at the back post from a free kick.

It should have been 1-0 South Africa, but the skipper headed over the bar from close range.

By this stage of the game the Bafana players’ confidence was up, sensing that they could indeed match the Brazilians and Simphiwe Tshabalala forced a great save out of Julio Cesar with a well struck free kick on the half hour mark.

There were a few half chances for the likes of Kaka and Andre Santos before the break, but when South Africa went into the recess at 0-0, it was very much job done.

The second half more or less duplicated the first as Joel Santana’s men made life difficult for Brazil. Excellent man marking by Benson Mhlongo on Kaka meant that Brazil’s main playmaker was nullified, with a result that in general, the Samba Boys were only able to manufacture half-chances on goal.

Excellent man marking by Benson Mhlongo on Kaka meant that Brazil’s main playmaker was nullified, with a result that in general, the Samba Boys were only able to manufacture half-chances on goal.

Mokoena’s first half miss had been the defining moment in the first stanza, and there was an incidence of similar importance in the 58th minute when Modise’s shot took a deflection off a Brazil defender - the ball seemed to be headed for the back of the net, until Cesar made a world-class save.

Prior to that moment, the South Africans has been in the ascendancy, showing through their play that there was a belief that they could win the game, the likes of Steven Pienaar, Tshabalala, Mhlongo and Modise doing outstanding work in the middle of the park.

There was little more goal-mouth action of note, until Bafana suffered the killer blow two minutes from time when Mokoena gave away a free kick just outside the box and substitute Dani Alves buried the ball with an effort that gave Khune very little chance.

Alves' substitute impact - Image from Associated Press

The relief on the Brazil players’ faces was in clear evidence – it had been a fantastic performance by South Africa and it has started to appear as if the Samba Boys were starting to run out of ideas as extra time approached.

Dani Alves celebrates his trademark goal - Image from Associated Press

Brazil players happy to be in final - Image from Associated Press

This report is featured at MTNFootball.

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