Bafana claim well-earned draw
Siphiwe Tshabalala (File)
Johannesburg - Siphiwe Tshabalala captained Bafana Bafana to a well-earned 0-0 draw in their 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Egypt at the Military Academy Stadium in Egypt on Sunday .
The draw places Bafana on top of the group with eight points after four matches, requiring one win in the remaining two fixtures to ensure qualification into the Africa Cup of Nations.
They will play Niger away in September and host Sierra Leone in October.
Captaining the team in injured Steven Pienaar's absence, Tshabalala led his side from the front against an unpredictable Egyptian side.
The encounter was marred by the home crowd shining green lazers in the South African players' faces each time they were awarded a set-piece.
Authorities were unable to find the perpetrators and the lazer-pointing continued until the final whistle. The Egyptians applied early pressure as Bafana struggled to hang onto the ball. Bafana defended much of the early encounters and in the 28th minute managed their first notable attempt from a set-piece.
In the visitors' first corner of the match, Siyabonga Sangweni found space on the far post but his close range header was well saved by Egyptian keeper Essam El Hadary.
On the half hour mark, Bafana clicked into gear and launched menacing attacks. Tshabalala's long range effort had El Hadary diving full stretch to keep the scores level in the 33rd minute.
Katlego Mphela spurned the opportunity of the half when he was left one on one with the keeper in the 36th minute. 'Killer' Mphela left the Egyptian defence trailing but his shot was straight at El Hadary who pulled off an easy save.
On the hour mark, Bafana keeper Itumeleng Khune pulled off a spectacular diving save to deny Pharaohs midfielder Ahmed Fathy's powerful shot from inside the box.
The home side regained their grip on the clash heading into the final half hour with waves of attack.
Khune was the standout player of the match for Bafana as he reeled off a number of fine saves and was instrumental in keeping his team level in a difficult fixture.
Despite the fourth official awarding seven minutes of injury time, the home side was unable to score.