/ 3 February 2008

Young SA soccer stars down the Danes

South Africa’s national Under-23 soccer team beat their Danish counterparts 2-0 at a packed Caledonian Stadium in Pretoria on Saturday.

Earlier in the week Amaglug-glug were held to a draw by the Danes, but a much-improved performance by Steve Komphela’s side saw the hosts comfortably win the second game of this two-match international friendly series.

Santos striker Eleazor Rodgers netted in the 50th minute and SuperSport United striker Kermit Erasmus finished off the Danes with a superb strike in extra time.

South Africa were unlucky not to take the lead in the first half, but Lebohang Mokoena’s effort rebounded off the crossbar to deny the Orlando Pirates player a goal. The half became dull, though, as both sides seemed overly cautious.

George Maluleke started the second half in the place of Mokoena and the substitute brought refreshing and much-needed gusto to the attack. The SuperSport hit man went on amazing runs and, five minutes after the restart, his creativity led to the opening goal.

Maluleke weaved past the bemused Danes in the box and set Rodgers up for an easy tap-in.

The Danes upped their tempo but South Africa captain James Madidilane marshalled his defence well and kept the burly Europeans at bay. Amaglug-glug did not sit back and Maluleke allowed the midfielders to forage forward as he held the ball up and made simple passes that had the Danes on the back foot.

Ajax Cape Town winger Mkhanyiseli Siwahla troubled the Danes with his nifty footwork, but loitered with the ball when his teammates were begging for a cross. Nevertheless, the partisan crowd enjoyed the antics.

With three minutes remaining, another United striker — Erasmus — made a dash toward the goal after a failed Denmark attack and, as the visitors strolled back, he unleashed a shot from outside the 18-area that goalie Michael Tornes could not stop. — Sapa