Bafana Bafana start 2011 with a win
10 February 2011
Bafana Bafana began their 2011 programme on a winning note with a 2-0 victory over Kenya in a friendly international at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on Wednesday evening.
"It is encouraging because it is a good win, but obviously there is some room for improvement because we had lots of chances in the box and we didn't take them all," Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane told the media after the game.
"We will need more than this against Egypt."
The match served as a warm-up for South Africa's crucial African Cup of Nations qualifier against the three-time defending champions on 25 March.
The difference in ranking between the two countries has dramatically narrowed in recent times, with Egypt tumbling an astonishing 23 places to 33rd in the latest Fifa World Rankings, while South Africa is up four places to 47th. Bafana Bafana were last higher than that in October 2005 when they held down 46th position.
In preparation for the showdown against the Pharaohs, Mosimane elected to give starts to Davide Somma, Andile Jali and Mzivukile Tom whilst leaving out captain Aaron Mokoena.
His decision bore fruit almost immediately after the kick off when Somma found the back of the Kenyan goal with one of the fastest goals in Bafana Bafana history, netting after just 67 seconds.
Although not a record, it took only 27 seconds less than it took Teboho Mokoena to score against Burundi in 2003.
Anele Ngcongca set up the Leeds United marksman with an excellent cross from the right and Somma flicked it into the back of the goal from the near post to send South Africa into a stunning lead.
Right back Ngcongca, who shone for Bafana Bafana during the 2010 Fifa World Cup before suffering an injury, produced another top cross a few minutes later, but this time the Kenyans cleared the ball.
South Africa were in charge of possession and well in control of the game.
Struck an upright
In the 12th minute Somma almost made it 2-0 after a goalmouth scramble, but his shot struck an upright. Shortly after that captain Steven Pienaar set the striker up, but Kenyan goalkeeper Zacharia Onyango denied him.
Kenya settled down after the initial South African onslaught, but Siphiwe Tshabalala had the crowd oohing and aahing after a steaming long-range free kick narrowly missed the target with Onyango beaten.
After 20 minutes the Harambee Stars finally tested South African goalie Itumeleng Khune when striker Dennis Oliech let fly after a sharp Kenyan counter-attack.
Pienaar was clearly eager to get his name on the scoresheet and he shot wide of goal when it might have been better to feed Tshabalala to his left.
With almost 35 minutes gone, Somma almost played his fellow striker Bernard Parker in, but Parker just failed to get onto the end of the pass.
Captain on target
With the halftime whistle due to sound at any moment, captain Pienaar put his side two goals clear. After a shot by Jali had been turned around for a corner, Pienaar got himself onto the end of the kick into the goal area and fired a low shot into back of the net to record his first goal for Bafana since a 2005 World Cup qualifier against Uganda.
After the break, Bafana came out strongly once more and dictated the pace of play.
Somma had a chance for another goal early on when a ball from Parker beat the off-sides' trap. Somma was, however, denied by Onyango.
Two minutes later, Pienaar came oh so close to putting South Africa three goals clear when fired a free-kick into the Kenyan crossbar.
Just after the hour mark, Kenya could have been reduced to 10 men when Onyango fouled Parker outside the area, but the referee opted not to show the red card.
With 25 minutes to play Pienaar was replaced by Reneilwe Letsholonyane and Siphiwe Tshabalala was given the captain's armband for the first time in his career. He responded by blasting a shot towards goal, but it flew wide of the mark.
After 70 minutes, coach Mosimane sent on rising Ajax Cape Town star Thulani Serero for his first cap for the senior national team. He replaced Parker.
Despite a number of late changes, there was no change to the scoresheet as South Africa went on to a comfortable 2-0 victory.
After the game, Kenya coach Zedekia Otieno offered his opinion on Bafana Bafana and their chances of defeating Egypt. "If South Africa puts Egypt under pressure the way they did with us today and be composed in front of goal I think it is very easy to beat Egypt," he said.
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