Bafana finally beat Nigeria
Nigeria’s domination over South Africa came to an end on Wednesday night when Bafana Bafana beat the Super Eagles 2-1 in the Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup at Ellis Park Stadium.
The Super Eagles brought their third string squad after the late withdrawal of nine of their first team players.
The South Africans, who also missed some of their top players such as star midfielder Steven Pienaar, led 1-0 at halftime.
Striker Shaun Barlett nodded home past goalkeeper Greg Etafia in the 22nd minute. He converted a corner kick, which was taken by Sibusiso Zuma.
It was the first corner kick for Bafana Bafana, who survived an early scare in the first minute. But the threatening fire was easily put-out by defender Aaron Mokoena.
Benedict Vilakazi increased the tally to 2-0 in the 60th minute.
The Orlando Pirates midfielder was fed a through-pass by Benedict McCarthy. Bottled by three defenders, the diminutive player outsprinted his markers and rattled the net, leaving Etafia sprawled on the ground.
But Makinwa Ayodele reduced the lead to 2-1 a minute later. His close range shot from a goalmouth scramble sailed past Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Hans Vonk, who otherwise had a good game.
Siyabonga Nomvethe, who replaced Bartlett in the 75th minute, almost registered his name on the sheet in the 77th minute but his goal was disallowed when he was adjudged offside.
Gift Leremi, who came on for Delron Buckley in the 72nd minute, turned on the heat and the Nigerians began to backpedal.
Leremi forced Etafia to dive full-length and block his blistering shot in the 82nd minute.
But Bafana Bafana should have won by a wider margin.
They came close in the 17th minute. The move was started by Bartlett who passed to Quinton Fortune. The left-footed midfielder fed McCarthy but Delron Buckley’s last touch spoiled the move when he ballooned the ball over.
Bafana, who never gave up trying, pushed forward and forced the corner-kick in the 22nd minute which led to their first goal.
The Eagles fought back gallantly and came close to cancelling Bartlett’s goal, but ‘keeper Vonk brought all his vast experience to the fore, thwarting Benedict Akwuegbu’s attempt in the 29th minute.
Zuma should have increased the score in the 35th minute, but his unselfishness saw him cross to Vikalazi, who missed the ball completely.
However, the real excitement in the 10th Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup match was when the the former president did a lap of honour in a golf cart. He was joined on the pitch by other dignatories, including Deputy President Jacob Zuma, Sports Minister Reverend Makhenkesi Stofile and South African Football Association president Molefi Oliphant.
The former president, who turned 86 in July, stood motionless throughout the singing of both countries’ national anthems and then shook hands with all the players. - Sapa