Bafana Bafana have been edged out 1-0 by a youthful and inexperienced Norway side at Cape Town Stadium.
Gordon Igesund's side dominated nearly the entire game on Tuesday evening, but squandered a host of chances. For all their promise in attack, Bafana's lack of composure up front was an obvious flaw.
South African's goalie Ithumeleng Khune was a virtual spectator for most of the night. Yet with one of their rare chances on goal, the visiting team scored three minutes before the break when captain Tarik Elyounoussi took advantage of some slack defending to net the only goal of the evening.
The match got off to a fast-paced start, with both teams intent on attacking. Bafana's forward forays were however too laboured and lacked the speed and creativity needed to break down Norway's defence.
South Africa's first chance came at 17 minutes. Having enjoyed a period of sustained ball possession Renilwe Letsholonyane picked out Katlego Mphela on the edge of the box. The Sundowns man did well to turn his defender, before getting in a decent low drive from a tight angle, but goalkeeper Rune Jarstein blocked the shot with his legs.
The home side got another opportunity 10 minutes before half-time when the ball fell nicely for Anele Ngcongca 12 metres out from goal. Instead of trying to shoot the Khayelistsha-born defender tried to find a team-mate and the chance was gone.
Soon after that Thuso Phala was given acres of space down the right wing, allowing the Platinum Stars midfielder to drive towards goal before putting in a low cross. Mphela then flashed a header just wide, as South Africa grew in confidence and increased their tempo in attack.
However, it was against the run of play that Norway went ahead, Elyounoussi picking up on a loose ball before ghosting across the 18-yard line and then firing in an unstoppable drive.
Bafana should have levelled matters just two minutes later when Lerato Chabangu played in Mphela, but clean through on goal he made a mess of controlling the ball and saw it taken off his feet.
After the break Thuso Phala slipped Tokelo Rantie in on goal, but the former Pirates striker's first touch was too heavy, which resulted in a weak attempt on goal. The rebound fell to Phala, but his shot lacked conviction and a defender cleared it.
The home team continued to push for an equaliser and again came close midway through the second half when Phala squared a low ball across goal, but substitute Thulani Serero arrived too late to convert the cross.
Serero was again unable to make it count in the box when, with eight minutes to go, he failed to get a decisive touch on the ball. More chances followed as Siyabonga Sangweni saw his headed effort bouncing just on the wrong side of the post following a cross from substitute Bernard Parker.
Phala then missed South Africa's best chance of the night when he ballooned a shot from 12-yards over the bar after some good work from Serero. With the Norwegian goalkeeper wrong-footed it was effectively an open goal, which he failed to hit.
The miss summed up what was a frustrating night for South Africa as they failed to beat a side clearly weaker than themselves. – Sapa