A swift start for South Africa against neighbors Mozambique wins them the game but not many plaudits
Bernard Parker scuffed his shot but still saw it trickle home to give the home team a seventh minute lead but the platform of the early goal failed to inspire a more resounding score line at a less than half filled Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
Parker did double the score line but the second goal came with just three minutes left.
South Africa initially threatened a run away win against a virtual second string Mozambique side, who rested seven players who had featured in Sunday’s 2-0 home win over Morocco in the African Nations Cup qualifiers.
But by the end of the game had fallen back into usual Bafana pattern of dominating possession but failing to set up any real chances.The goal came after an inch-perfect through ball from Siphiwe Tshabalala at the end of a characteristic surge down the left hand flank.
Parker outpaced three defenders to get to the ball first failing connect with much force but enough for it to trickle over the line.Reneilwe Letsholonyane hammered a long-range volley close just four minutes later and captain Bongani Khumalo headed just over the top soon after that. It all suggested the derby might turn into a rout.
Mozambique did not have an effort until Helder Pelembe warned of his potential with a thunderous effort in the 25th minute that just rose over the South African goal.South Africa might have had a second goal just before half-time when Khumalo netted from a free kick but it was inexplicably ruled out by the Swazi referee.
His linesmen also battled with the pace of the game, making erroneous calls that cost Bafana further opportunity. But the home side failing to keep punching holes into the Mozambican defence lost them the momentum and it took a full quarter-hour into the second half before South Africa conjured up another effort.
Parker tried to squeeze in a ball from a tight angle at the near post at the end of substitute May Mahlangu’s cross and then Mozambique goalkeeper Pinto pulled off a fine stop to thwart Tshabalala, coming off his line to spread himself and stop a close range shot.
Parker’s 87th minute goal came after a swift counter attack with the Kaizer Chiefs midfielder sweeping the ball through the legs of Pinto.
Mozambique’s woes were exacerbated when captain Miro was sent off for a second caution in the 89th minute. He had been the only player to see yellow. But they might have snatched a consolation in stoppage time when goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs was caught out and had to watch as Bevan Fransman cleared off the line from teenage substitute Clesio.
The small size of the crowd, estimated under 10 000, would have come as a major disappointment to the South African Football Association, hoping the euphoria after Friday’s strong showing against Brazil would have brought out more people for Gordon Igesund, making his home debut as coach.
For Bafana it was only their third win in their last 13 matches and Tuesday’s victory did little to suggest the host nation will provide a potential tournament winning team at the next year’s African Nations Cup finals.
South Africa: Moeneeb Josephs, Siboniso Gaxa, Punch Masenamela, Bongani Khumalo (Bevan Fransman 69’), Siyabonga Sangweni, Reneilwe Letsholonyane (George Maluleka 64’), Dean Furman (Kamohelo Mokgotjo 90’), Lerato Chabangu (Thamsanqa Gabuza 74’), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Thabo Matlaba 84’), Thulani Serero (May Mahlangu 55’), Bernard Parker. Coach: Gordon Igesund.
Mozambique: Pinto, João Mazive, Miro, Zaindaine Junior, Ruben (Kito 71’), Diogo (Clésio 67’), Manuelito I, Gabito (Sidique 88’), Imo (Telinho 60’), Jumisse (Manuelito II 77’), Helder Pelembe. Coach: Gert Engels.
Referee: Mbongiseni Fakude (Swaziland)
Dismissal: Miro 89’