South Africa got the three points they desperately needed in the game, but a host of missed chances may come back to haunt them…Bernard Parker’s two goals will go down in the record books as the difference between South Africa and New Zealand in a noisy Royal Bafokeng stadium, but Pienaar’s hard work in the midfield allowed Bafana Bafana to dominate the All Whites from start to finish in the 2-0 win.
The dominance was to such a great degree that Bafana could easily have won the encounter by four or five goals, with so many chances falling to the men up front and two goals being ruled out for offside. Katlego Mashego in particular was a culprit in this regard, missing many chances and being unfortunate enough to score when in an offside position.
The result allows Bafana to move up to second spot in the group with four points, two behind leaders Spain and three in front of Iraq. The final group matches pit Iraq against New Zealand, while South Africa take on Spain. Both matches will be played simultaneously, and this is where an interesting scenario presents itself.
South Africa’s numerous missed opportunities might prove gravely crucial following their last match against Spain when (should Iraq beat New Zealand and Bafana succumb to Spain) goal difference could come into play. Second half substitute Mashego, on for the permanently offside Thembinkosi Fanteni, could take the blame having been put through on goal three times against All Whites keeper Glenn Moss, and being caught offside on five other occasions.
South Africa coach Joel Santana is only too aware that his men let slip the opportunity to seal automatic qualification by not killing off the Kiwis despite over 20 shots on goal. The coach said, "We played very well but we could have scored more goals. It was a clear-cut victory considering the amount of ball possession and number of chances created; we could have had two or three more goals which would have qualified us. We are in a good position now, but from a mathematical point of view we don't have a place in the semi-finals yet.”
That match is in the past now, but the fact remains that if South Africa lose to Spain and Iraq manage to beat New Zealand, it will come down to a matter of goal difference to decide the team that will move on to the semi-finals.
The Asian representatives are tough and physical, but whether or not they have the firepower to put a few goals in the back of the net remains to be seen, with the side yet to score in the competition.
South Africa did well yesterday, and they can be proud of a one-sided performance in which they played with flair and confidence; but how will they fare against Spain? At the end of the ninety minutes in Bloemfontein against the Furia Roja, they may be regretting not putting a few more names on the scoresheet against the All Whites.
Peter Pedroncelli, Goal.com