/ 11 October 2009

Bafana slump against Norway

Bafana Bafana slumped to their seventh defeat in the last eight friendly internationals when they were beaten 1-0 by Norway at a cold Ullevaal Stadium on Saturday.

The only goal came in the 48th minute and was scored by Kjetil Waehler.

Another setback against Iceland in Reykjavik on Tuesday night will probably sound the death knell for Bafana head coach Joel Santana.

Santana got his tactics horribly wrong again against Norway — ranked 43 in the world — who failed to qualify for the Soccer World Cup in South Africa next June.

Santana’s team tried to defend when they should have gone for broke and attacked. This timid approach will not have pleased Santana’s new bosses at the South African Football Association
(Safa), who told the Brazilian coach they want results before he and his squad left for their two match trip to Norway and Iceland.

Santana again fielded two defensive midfielders
in Macbeth Sibaya and Kagiso Dikgacoi when he needed to be more adventurous.

For Norway it was sweet revenge for their 2-1 defeat which Bafana inflicted on them in March in a friendly played in Rustenburg.

Norway were all over Bafana in a one-sided first half in which the South Africans did not have a single shot at Norwegian goalkeeper Jon Knudsen. The home side totally dominated and had Bafana in trouble with their pace.

That pressure meant that neither Bafana strikers, Katlego Mashego nor Bernard Parker, saw much of the ball and were virtual spectators. Without injured midfield star Steven Pienaar, the Bafana engine room failed to fire with both creative players Teko Modise and Siphiwe Tshabalala failing to stamp any authority on the game.

The busiest Bafana player was surprise choice keeper Moeneeb Josephs who was given the nod over other keepers in the squad, Rowen Fernandez and Emile Baron, who had played in Norway for Lillestrom in 2000.

Josephs — who has been in brilliant form for Orlando Pirates — earned his selection and did not disappoint. He did well to cut out a dangerous cross into his area by Blackburn Rovers Morten Gamst Pedersen after two minutes.

Josephs was a little fortunate in the 20th minute when the Norwegian League’s top goal scorer Erik Huseklepp rounded him but shot into the side netting. Pedersen came close when a cross sailed past the post in the 25th minute.

Josephs did well to deny Pedersen in the 26th and 27th minutes. But the Pirates star made the best save of the match on the half-hour mark when he brilliantly turned Henning Haugar’s goal-bound rocket for a corner and kept his side in this match.

Norway got their deserved breakthrough three minutes after halftime when the ball-watching Bafana defenders were helpless to prevent Waehler from scoring from a long throw-in to put the home side into a 1-0 lead. – Sapa