Africa, Sport

Bafana Bafana’s heart breaks in the cold Pretoria night

Bafana Bafana’s heart breaks in the cold Pretoria night

It was the game that was meant to ensure that Bafana would play in the second round of the World Cup, but nobody sent the Uruguayans the memo. Diego Forlan’s wicked performance sent Bafana into deep sadness. Uruguay three, South Africa zero.

In many ways, one-day cricket and soccer tournaments have many things in common: it depends on who’s the first one to attack, if all the players are having good day and if the ball flies couple of inches left or right. The margin for error in those games is more or less next to nothing. And the team has to have luck on their side.

Bafana Bafana had a bad night on Wednesday, and their cup of bad luck runneth over. The Uruguayans had a perfect set of tactics for the match: calm the game down so the influence of the supporters is minimised, dominate the possession and then rely on the superstars, Forlan and Suarez, to deliver on the promise of moments of personal brilliance. And have luck on your side.

The Uruguayan squad delivered on all requests and then some. Forlan and Suarez built upon their excellent midfielders. Every time they touched the ball, there was a danger in the air. The Bafana Bafana defence appeared to be unsure of itself and they were left hanging many times.

But even as Uruguay was playing well and Bafana not (it took Bafana a whole 68 minutes for their first proper shot on the goal), they still needed luck to take the game in their hands. Forlan’s first goal, as brilliant shot as it was, came only after Mokoena’s head deflected the ball into Khune’s goal in such abrupt fashion that even a brilliant keeper of his stature didn’t stand a chance. Forlan’s second goal came from a penalty as Khune brought down Suarez, who happened to be offside at the time. And as one trouble needs a partner, Khune received a red card.

Gods of luck were not on Bafana’s side tonight, but, in truth, Uruguay deserved their win. Forlan is a player of global quality and the side appears to be able to do well this time. Bafana now faces France in do-or-die game next Tuesday in Bloemfontein. It will be difficult, but it is entirely doable.

Here are the notes from the match:

Starting teams

South Africa: Khune, Gaxa, Masilela, Mokoena, Khumalo, Tshabalala, Pienaar, Dikgacoi, Modise, Letsholonyane, Mphela

Uruguay: Muslera, Lugano, Godin, Fucile, Cavani, Suarez, Forlan, A Pareira, Perez, M Pareira, Arevalo

Man of the match

Diego Forlan

First half

  • 1st minute: Very physical start to the game.

The vuvuzelas at Loftus Versveld must be unbearable.

  • 3rd minute: Arevalo and Lugano collide, and the Uruguayan keeper gets it in the teeth.
  • 4th minute: Free kick to Uruguay in front of Khune’s goal. Forlan takes it, but Pienaar charges out of the wall, and gets a yellow card for his enthusiasm.
  • 7th minute: Suarez’s shot is wide.

Pienaar’s boot comes off….

  • 9th minute: Lugano fires in a free kick, but it is too high.

The Uruguayan keeper’s jersey is, and I have this on good authority, Gitmo orange.

  • 13th minute: Tshabalala tries to emulate his Mexican goal, but it’s shot too high.
  • 16th minute: Tshabalala tries to lob a shot in, but it goes high.

It is the 17th game of this tournament, with no free kick goals in so far.

  • 18th minute: Teko Modise is brought down, but that looks like a dive. Free kick to Tshabalala, but it’s eventually cleared by the Uruguayan keeper.

Bafana are playing the dominance game, holding the midfield and passing the ball well.

  • 22nd minute: Suarez has a good shot at goal, but Khune tames it brilliantly.
  • 24th minute: A Forlan shot takes a deflection off Mokoena and flies into the posts. Silence around the stadium as the Uruguayan team celebrates.

Photo: South Africa’s goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune fails to save a goal by Uruguay’s Diego Forlan during their 2010 World Cup Group A soccer match at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria June 16, 2010. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

The worried look on Carlos Alberto Parreira’s face is back.

  • 32nd minute: Suarez gets another shot at goal. Khumalo’s response was a little slow there.
  • 33rd minute: Corner to Bafana, but it fizzles out quickly.
  • 35th minute: Modise collides with Fucile, but the referee doesn’t give a free kick.
  • 39th minute: Mphela does well to turn a cross in, but the header is wide. Grimaces all around the stadium.
  • 42nd minute: Dikgacoi commits a foul, and earns a yellow card. He’ll miss the next game against France.
  • 43rd minute: Arevalo shoots, and it goes high.

End of the first half.

Even as Uruguay leads, Bafana is not doing badly: they control the ball well and do not appear perturbed by Uruguay’s lead.

Second half

  • 48th minute: Suarez’s run on the left-hand side of the penalty box creates havoc in the South African defence.
  • 49th minute: Mokoena appears to have dented Suarez’s face, and he has to leave the field for medical help.
  • 51st minute: Forlan’s short corner gets not much attention from any Bafana players.
  • 52nd minute: Suarez goes down in the box and demands a penalty. The referee is not interested.
  • 54th minute: Forlan’s cross creates another case of havoc.

The Bafana defence does not appear to be able to deal with Uruguayan attacks. Uruguay is thoroughly dominating the game right now. If Bafana is to change the course of the game, its mid-fielders will have to snap back, and soon.

  • 60th minute: Another Forlan cross, flicked away. Every time Forlan sends the ball in, a mini-chaos ensues.
  • 66th minute: A first proper chance for Bafana, but Mphela couldn’t flick his header back into the Muslera’s goal.
  • 68th minute Modise’s shot is the first on target in the second half, unfortunately straight into Muslera.

Uruguay has succeeded in slowing down Bafana’s game and the minutes are passing fast. Anxious moments.

  • 76 minute: Suarez hits a tough ball that Khune saves.

Photo: Referee Massimo Busacca of Switzerland shows the red card to South Africa’s goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune during a 2010 World Cup Group A soccer match against Uruguay at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria June 16, 2010. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

  • 76th minute: Penalty for Uruguay and Khune gets a red card. Bafana’s excellent keeper is out and the nation is heartbroken.
  • 79th minute: Stephen Pienaar is out and the reserve keeper Moeneeb Josephs is in. Sad. Forlan shoots and scores with a mortal certainty.

Photo: South Africa’s goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs fails to save a penalty kick by Uruguay’s Diego Forlan during the 2010 World Cup Group A soccer match at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria June 16, 2010. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The country is united in grief.

Since Uruguay’s second goal, Bafana is mostly going through the motions. It would be extremely difficult to come back into this game, not least because they attempt it with only 10 players on the field.

  • 86th minute: Josephs stops Cavani’s unpleasant shot after Uruguay’s dangerous counter-attack. Josephs appears to have a safe pair of hands.
  • 89th minute: The Uruguayans move with supreme ease on the field. They look good and their victory appears to be complete, although there should be at least three or four minutes of extra time.

Photo: Uruguay’s Alvaro Pereira (C) celebrates his goal with teammates Sebastian Fernandez and Diego Godin during a 2010 World Cup Group A soccer match against South Africa at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria June 16, 2010. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

  • 93rd minute: Parreira scores with easiest of headers, after Suarez lobbed the ball over the entire Bafana defence and found the scorer alone and unmarked.

By Branko Brkic and Sipho Hlongwane

Main photo: South Africa fans react after their team lost to Uruguay following their 2010 World Cup Group A soccer match at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria June 16, 2010. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez


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