20 January 2013

South Africa/Cape Verde: All Square in Group A of Afcon 2013

Hosts South Africa played to a goalless draw against Cape Verde in the opening match of the 29th Edition of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations South Africa 2013 at the National Stadium on Saturday, 19 January.

The match was played in wet conditions after incessant rains throughout the day.

The second Group A clash between Morocco and Angola also ended in a stalemate with both sides failing to find the back of the net, leaving Group A evenly matched.

The tournament was declared open by the State President of the Republic of South Africa, Jacob Zuma. Dignitaries who attended the colourful opening ceremony included among others President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Issa Hayatou and the secretary general of FIFA, Jerome Valcke.

While Bafana Bafana enjoyed a lot of ball possession, they didn't seem to trouble the opposing goalkeeper, leaving head coach Gordon Igesund a disappointed man.

He made three changes in the second half bringing on Lerato Chabangu, Thulani Serero and Katlego Mphela for Kagisho Dikgacoi, Siphiwe Tshabalala and Lehlohonolo Majoro respectively.

Bernard Parker and Mphela celebrated their 50th caps for Bafana Bafana who left thousands of their supporters disappointed on a vibrant night in which fans came in their thousands.

"We didn't create any chances today and so for me the first half was very disappointing and a lot of players didn't come to the party. After working so hard at training, I believe my players froze today and our midfield didn't play at all today as we were trying to pump the balls forward. We needed a little bit of creativity, but the nerves got to the players and I have never seen them like this before. We looked very desperate for a goal," said Igesund.

"It looked liked the guys were panicking trying to play at a very high speed that we are not accustomed to. The first half was a complete waste of 45 minutes, but the second half was a little bit better. We are facing Angola and Morocco and these are games that we now need to win as we have put ourselves under pressure. Today I wanted to be very offensive, but it did not happen."

Igesund thanked the fans who filled the National Stadium. He also believes all is not lost.

"We have to go for it against Angola, that is a match we have to win. In fact we have two games to play and I think five or six points might be enough to see us through. We got the point, it was important not to lose the game and on Wednesday we can't draw that game. There are still six points to play for," added Igesund.

Bafana Bafana captain Bongani Khumalo echoed the sentiments of the coach.

\"Obviously we would have loved to get to a winning start so we could set the tone for the tournament, but nonetheless we have a point. We have another big game on Wednesday - and another one after that so there is a chance," said Khumalo.

The draw in the other Group A match now means all the teams have one point each.

How South Africa and Cape Verde lined up:

South Africa:

Itumeleng Khune; Anele Ngcongca, Bongani Khumalo(c), Siyabonga Sangweni, Thabo Matlaba; Kagisho Dikgacoi (Lerato Chabangu), Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Thuso Phala, Siphiwe Tshabalala (Thulani Serero); Lehlohonolo Majoro (Katlego Mphela), Bernard Parker.

Cape Verde Islands:

Vozinha; Carlitos, Fernando Varela, Nando, Nivaldo; Babanco, Marco Soares, Platini, Toni Varela; Heldon, Ryan Mendes.

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