Sunday, January 27, 2013

South Africa, Carpe Verde through; Morocco and Angola out

South Africa conceded in the 9th minute due to poor defensive work from a corner-kick by Morocco. Two defenders sandwiching an attacker and both failed to make contact with the ball. Itumeleng Khune is as tall as the scorer and a foot taller with extended arms but he had bad take-off and poor judgment coupled with a mistimed jump to fist the ball away.

There were a few free-headers from corners after that. Bafana failed to combat competitively in midfield, that unit being caught on the wrong side of the ball more often. The Moroccans utilised their speed in those transitions to counter-attack.

The body shapes and player distribution became unbalanced and there were many North Africans unmarked in dangerous areas. The midfield cohesion and support was a little inadequate. This overloaded the defense.

The most contentious issue with the whole defensive behaviour of the team was lack of anticipation. Bafana Bafana failed to get to the ball first, save for Furman. Furman’s ball control, passing and general composure dictated the pace in midfield for the hosts. His maturity proves why he is the captain of Oldham Athletic.

The attacking unit was as guilty, even their inter-passing play. The general lack of patience on the ball going forward saw the launching of long balls to Katlego Mphela and Tokelo Rantie. The tussle for the 50-50 balls drained much energy off the front two resulting in poor co-ordination between the two.

Morocco seemed content with the single goal as they realised further attacks exposed their defence. Thuso Phala was on song pulling the strings on the right hand flank.  

It must be said that Bafana were the vicitms of questionable officiating -  firstly with penalty opportunities denied and wrong offside calls. Itumeleng Khune had to make the best saves of the tournament more than twice.

May Mahlangu complemented Furman later in the match, his efforts being rewarded by a classy equaliser with 20 minutes on the clock remaining. It was his interplay with Bernard Parker after a Siyabonga Sangweni venture upfront that created a chance to curl the ball around the forest of defenders past the goalkeeper.

A lapse in concentration in defence presented Morocco with an easy goal through six pairs of legs. Sangweni had the last laugh as he ventured forward once more, latching onto a through ball by    to fake a first time shot and then playing two touches to bend the ball around the goalie delicately. It was a classic finish by any standards and coming from a central defender.

The Cerpe Verde beat Angola by 2-1 to qualify alongside South Africa and Ivory Coast to the quarter-finals. Morocco and Angola joined Algeria on the elimination list.