Soccer

Baby Bafana content with draw

2011-11-28 15:09
Shakes Mashaba (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - South Africa U-23 coach Shakes Mashaba felt Sunday's 1-1 draw against the Ivory Coast was a "well-earned point" in their CAF U-23 Championships encounter in Morocco.

Baby Bafana, reduced to ten men with the 52nd minute dismissal of Thami Sangweni, scored first through Phumelele Bhengu but substitute George Griffiths equalised with six minutes to go of the Group B tie at Marrakech Stadium.

"It was a game of contrasting tactics and was unfortunately decided by a red card to our player Thami Sangweni while we were leading 1-0 early in the second half," said Mashaba.

"Playing with ten men for such a long time at this level of the game is difficult, and despite that we managed to absorb the pressure and launched counter attacks that could have won us the match.

"I think we frustrated our opponents by keeping shape at all times and by also avoiding the short passing game they expected us to play. The red card made things extremely difficult for us and we should say it was a well-earned point at the end. We played against a very good Cote d'Ivoire team in a high intensity game."

South Africa's next match is against Gabon on Wednesday, with Mashaba expecting an improved display from his charges.

"The first match is out of the way now, and the players' anxieties must be a thing of the past. The focus is now on our next match against Gabon. It is a crucial clash that will determine our destiny in the Championship, and as a result, the preparation for it must equal its significance," concluded Mashaba.

Group B is led by Egypt with three points following their 1-0 win over Gabon in the earlier match.

The Ivory Coast and South Africa are in position two and three respectively with a point each, while Gabon is bottom of the table with no points.

Group A comprises Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Algeria.

The eight-team tournament serves as a qualifier for next year's London Olympics, with the top two teams in each group progressing to the semi-finals.

The finalists and the winners of the third and fourth place matches will automatically qualify for next year's sporting showpiece. The fourth team will contest a play-off fixture against an Asian federation country.

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