South Africa 1–0 Poland
South Africa hosted Poland in Johannesburg today, as the Europeans got a taste of the World Cup hosts in a friendly. Poland, coached by veteran Dutchman Leo Beenhakker, provided a stern test for Bafana Bafana’s tactical and physical prowess and Joel Santana’s side was hoping for a victory against the Europeans, allowing for a huge confidence boost ahead of the Confederations Cup.
The game began at a slow pace, with both sides comfortably passing the ball around and staying in possession without being put under pressure. The South African fans were soon cheering after great team work allowed Bafana to find an opener in the 5th minute, thanks to Israel based striker Terror Fanteni. Great work from Pienaar and a fine through ball allowed firecracker Bernard Parker to pounce on the ball and take it away from keeper and defender, leaving Fanteni to tap in the fine slide tackle-pass.
The early goal gave South Africa confidence, and they created a few more threatening chances over the next ten minutes, coming close to extending their lead through Parker after a great low cross from Gaxa on the right. Poland began to attack more half way through the first half, but the South African defence were able to keep them at bay. Everton midfielder Pienaar was always in the thick of things, with his work in the middle of the park allowing Bafana to create a number of opportunities.
In the 21st minute Poland got their first real shot on goal, as Peszko had a long range effort saved by Khune, though he spilled the shot and had to recover quickly to stop a rebound opportunity. A few minutes later Bafana were on the attack, and a pass from Parker found Fanteni once again, but this time his shot went disappointingly over the bar. Krzynowek was constantly frustrated for Poland down the right wing, and as the game approached the 40th minute a tactical shirt occurred, and the away side began to attack down the left hand side of the pitch.
With the half time break nearing, South Africa were in cruise control. They looked threatening going forward with Parker and Fanteni connecting well, while defending the counter attacks well. South Africa pushed forward slowly in the 43rd minute, keeping possession and gaining ground before Parker unleashed a shot, but his effort was off target. After a few more minutes, the referee ended the half and the player went into the break at 1-0 for Bafana.
The second half began brightly for visitors Poland, and in the 49th minute a great turn from Brazilian born Guerreiro demanded a good diving save from South Africa keeper Khune. The Bafana substitutes warmed up on the side of the pitch, as a depressed Teko Modise looked on from the bench, suffering an injury in training yesterday and rested as a precaution. Captain Mokoena marshaled the team well from the back, and his central partnership with Booth was looking solid.
The South African fans in the Orlando Stadium were making a noise in support of their heroes, and in the 57th minute Parker had a good chance to score another for the home side, but after a good build up, the striker’s finish was not good enough to beat Zaluska in the Polish goal on his debut. Neither team dominated possession in the second half, but the home side looked more comfortable when on the ball.
Krzynowek was disappointing for the Polish, but Guerreiro gave South Africa a few headaches in defence, as the confident midfielder pushed his side towards an equaliser in Johannesburg. Bafana had little to show in attack during the second half, but in the 70th minute a pin point cross from the right wing found Mhlongo in the box, with his header rocketing over the goal. Booth was particularly impressive in the final minutes of the game, clearing everything that the Poles threw South Africa’s way.
Pienaar suffered an injury in the closing stages of the game, with Tshabalala coming on to replace him. In the 76th minute wave after wave of Bafana attacks were aimed at Poland, with a cross turned shot from Gaxa worrying Zaluska into making a save for a corner, before a Sibaya shot in the box and a Dikgacoi long range effort. With ten minutes to go and the win at hand, Bafana slowed the pace down and aimed to hold on. Despite sustained pressure from the Europeans, South Africa were able to hold on and defeat Poland by a goal to nil.
SOUTH AFRICA 1–0 POLAND
GOALS: Fanteni (South Africa)
SOUTH AFRICA: Khune, Gaxa, Booth, Mokoena, Mdledle, Mhlongo, Sibaya, Dikgacoi, Pienaar (Tshabalala), Fanteni (Mashego), Parker (Van Heerden).
POLAND: Zaluska, Lobodzinski, Dudka (Janczyk), Murawski (Tralka), Krzynowek, Lewandowski, Guerreiro, Peszko, Lobodzinski, Saganowski.
Peter Pedroncelli, Goal.com