23 January 2013

South Africa/Angola: Bafana Deploy Pace, Guile Against Angola

Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
South Africa's Siyabonga Sangweni celebrates the host team's first goal - scored against Angola - at the Africa Cup of Nations finals.

South Africa have defeated Angola 2-0 to head to the top of their 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Group A after their clash in Durban on Wednesday evening.

It was a deserved win for the home side and one that gives them an excellent chance of reaching the quarter-finals of the continental showpiece for the first time since 2002.

Goals from Siyabonga Sangweni and Lehlohonolo Majoro, one in each half, sealed the win and provided a party atmosphere for the sell-out crowd at the at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

The South African performance was chalk-and-cheese from their dismal effort on Saturday against Cape Verde, where they struggled for any fluency and chances were at a premium.

By contrast, against Angola they played with pace and guile, the tempo of the game leaving Palancas Negras panicked at times, barely able to contain their hosts.

Bafana coach Gordon Igesund made five changes to his side and all of them added attacking threat to the line-up.

Thabo Matlaba was axed at left back for the more experienced Tsepo Masilela, while the excellent Dean Furman replaced the injured Kagisho Dikgacoi as a holding midfielder. May Mahlangu also came on for Reneilwe Letsholonyane in the centre of the park. Siphiwe Tshabalala was axed from the left wing, with Tokelo Rantie selected ahead of him, while Katlego Mphela replaced Majoro.

The opening 20 minutes saw Bafana dominate the play, Mphela, Rantie, Parker and Mahlangu all having chances to score.

But the goal the whole nation so craved arrived on the half-hour mark and it came from an unlikely source. A free kick into the box was only headed straight up by the Angolan defence and Sangweni volleyed home at the back post with a superbly-controlled finish.

Mateus had the only real opportunity for Angola, in the first half, but he smashed the ball over the bar when well placed in the box. It was a bad miss.

Angola had another opportunity to equalise 10 minutes after the break. This time Mateus was the provider, supplying Guilherme Afonso 12 yards out, but Itumeleng Khune made the save.

Furman saw his effort from just outside the box agonisingly tipped round the post by Angolan goalkeeper Lama, but the home side scored their second on 62 minutes. Letsholonyane’s long ball out of defence was picked up by Majoro. He left Bastos for dead and cut inside from the byline, driving the ball through the legs of Lama.

Angola pressed for a way back into the game and were troubling the South Africans with high balls into the box, but the home defence was able to scramble clear.

Majoro might have added a third in the final five minutes when a brilliant piece of distribution from Khune saw the striker 35 yards from goal with Lama off his line, but his chipped effort was well high and wide.

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