Bafana Bafana out on penalties
Rantie had the most notable chance, but he was smothered swiftly by the outstanding
Soumbeyla Diakite who would turn out to be the night’s hero for his country. Mali
Indecision and rushing cost Bafana Bafana a few more openings. However, such was their dominance
looked well on their way to a first Nations Cup semi-final since 2000 when
Rantie gave them a deserved 31st minute lead. South Africa
The changes Igesund made had worked beautifully. Siboniso Gaxa came in at right-back for the suspended Anele Ncgongca and his crossing on the overlap – just as at the 2009 Confederations Cup – was a feature early on for Bafana.
Midfielder Reneilwe Letsholonyane, who hadn’t had the most noteworthy tournament, was inspired on the night after replacing front-man Katlego Mphela in the starting line-up.
Both Gaxa and Letsholonyane were involved in several promising occasions early on. Good pressure, a feature of Bafana’s first half play, produced the first real opportunity with Gaxa finding space to cross for the industrious May Mahlangu. Letsholonyane then slipped a clever through-ball for Rantie but
Adama Tamboura recovered brilliantly to thwart the danger. Mali
Igesund’s changes meant a change to a 4-2-3-1 formation. As a result Bafana were much more solid as unit with the defence far less exposed. The hosts were able to swarm
in midfield then break forward with almost reckless abandon. It was high octane
stuff, and it’s how Mali ’s goal came about – a fast break
started by Itumeleng Khune’s accurate kick, ending up with Rantie finding the
net seconds later. South
But just as one missing brick can bring down a wall, so too can one change wreck a football team.
When Rantie went off injured shortly after his goal, coincidentally or not, the game changed. Rantie’s replacement Lehlohonolo Majoro was unable to offer the same threat either through pace down the channels or through competing with
Other factors played a part as well. Bafana simply got tired. They were unable to maintain their ferocious first half pace and attacking breaks became more sporadic.
Majoro had a rare sight on goal on 51 minutes, but a heavy touch and a lack of strength saw a decent chance slip away.
These, unfortunately, are the margins in international football, and a few minutes later Seydou Keita ghosted in behind a static Bafana defence to head in the equaliser.
There are many positives for
to take forward from the game and the tournament as a whole. The intensity at
which they played against South Africa
was superb. They pressed Mali
and were always primed to spring forward in adventurous attack. Mali
Ball movement and retention was also excellent at times, almost unrecognisable from the side that has struggled so much recently. Players such as Mahlangu have put up their hands as top-class performers, while others such as Khune have only reaffirmed their outstanding ability.
There are also lessons. The first surely is there has to be more focus on physicality and fitness.
has the facilities to produce world-class athletes, and its footballers need to
join the party. South Africa
|Too much power...|
Bafana's Reneilwe Letsholonyane is brushed aside by Samba Sow
This has to change.
In international football, and more especially
fitness counts for a lot.
It’s difficult to see
and winning Nations Cup. They are a team of well-managed parts, doing just
enough to stifle the opponent. However, when it comes to forcing the issue,
which it will inevitably come down to at some, stage it is difficult to see Mali
But they are establishing themselves. Two consecutive Nations Cup semi-final appearances and a fourth since 2002 is no mean feat.
are definitely an African