South Africa and Cape Verde played out a dull 0-0 draw in the opening game of the African Cup of Nations in Johannesburg.
Cape Verde centre-backs Fernando Neves and Fernando Varela marshalled a stubborn defence to stifle Bafana Bafana and record a famous result for the tournament debutants.
The first half was a scrappy affair with neither team able to gain a foothold on possession and produce any real quality.
In the 15th minute Cape Verde’s Elvis Babanco found some space in midfield and slid a wonderful through ball right through the centre of the South African defence. Platini latched on to the pass and bore down on the goalkeeper but his shot was scuffed and it dragged wide of the post.
The second half started with the hosts upping the tempo and applying some real pressure through SiphiweTshabalala and Mpho Chabangu, who replaced substitute for the injured Kagisho Dikgacoi,
As South Africa began to pile the pressure on, Cape Verde showed how well organised and drilled they are by retaining their shape and stopping the hosts having any clear attempts on goal.
In the 71st minute, substitute Thulani Serero slipped a beautiful pass into the penalty area but before fellow substitute Katlego Mphela could pull the trigger, Alves Nivaldo stepped across to make a crucial interception and snuff out another opportunity.
Ideas started to run out for Bafana and eventually Cape Verde began to play themselves. They created little but looked dangerous through Augusto Heldon, Ryan Mendes and substitute Julio Tavares.
The best chance of the half fell to right-winger Heldon in the 73rd minute, after Nivaldo’s cross found his team-mate at the far post. Heldon’s diving header was trickling into the bottom corner but the South African goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was equal to it and tipped the ball round the post.
South Africa continued to endeavour but their attacks were slow and predictable. Neves and Varela dealt with everything into the Cape Verde penalty area and protected their goalkeeper Vozinha very well.
In the 91st minute, South Africa captain Bongani Khumalo could have stolen the points. He met a lovely cross from a corner but he mistimed his header and it came off his shoulder and looped over the crossbar.
Cape Verde will be delighted to have escaped with a 0-0 draw against one of the stronger teams in this year’s African Cup of Nations. South Africa will see this game as two points dropped against the tournament debutants and will need to improve in the final third of the pitch if they are to progress from Group A.
- Sports & Recreation