19 January 2013

South Africa/Cape Verde: Sharks' Fairytale Rise Gives Bafana a Nightmare

Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix
Anele Ngcongca of South Africa, left, tangles with Heldon of Cape Verde during opening match of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations finals.

Johannesburg — Hosts South Africa failed to ignite the African Nations Cup as promised on the opening day on Saturday and left coach Gordon Igesund's assertion that he had picked a "dream team" looking something of a nightmare.

Tiny Cape Verde kept up their giant-killing run in the competition by holding Bafana Bafana to a goalless draw at Soccer City, with the standard of the football mirroring the wet and damp conditions.

South Africa created few chances in a game of little excitement, something Igesund said afterwards as he expressed his disappointment.

A nervous approach from the hosts, seemingly overwhelmed by the occasion and the mounting pressure through the build-up, saw them waste passes, fail to get any decent running going down the flanks and generally not trouble the Cape Verdian goalkeeper Vozinha.

The Blue Sharks of Cape Verde have had a fairytale rise to prominence in recent months, beating Cameroon in the qualifiers and now verifying their place among Africa's elite with the opening game draw.

Coach Lucio Antunes said afterwards he was delighted with the result, and rightly so. It will give the smallest country to ever play at the finals a belief now they might yet be able to make it past the first round, in what would be a major upset.

They also had the game's best two chances when Platini went wide from close range after 15 minutes – at the end of a defence-splitting pass from Babanco, and Heldon's diving header in the second half forced a save from Itumeleng Khune in the South African goal.

At the other end South Africa tried to look threatening but whenever there was the promise of a chance they fluffed it.

Igesund made three attacking changes in the second half with the introduction of Lerato Chabangu, Thulani Serero and Katlego Mphela, and while the side looked busier they still did not get a shot in at goal.

The closest they came was with two free kicks, the first from Simphiwe Tshabalala that was saved and the second over the top from Mphela.

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