Gutsy Bafana hold Paraguay
Asuncion - World Cup hosts South Africa continued their buildup to this summer's tournament with an encouraging 1-1 draw against Paraguay on Wednesday.
The South Americans, who were missing several top European-based players, took the lead after 37 minutes through Marcelo Estigarribia, but Bafana Bafana hit back to equalize through Siphiwe Tshabalala 19 minutes from time.
The result was a distinct improvement for South Africa coming as it did against a team also qualified for the World Cup and compared to the drab 1-1 draw played out against lowly ranked Namibia on March 3.
Paraguay dominated for most of the first half and deservedly took the lead after 37 minutes when Estigarribia found himself clear to head home from close in.
But after the break Carlos Alberto Parreira's team came more into the game and they deservedly equalised when top player Tshabalala struck home a tremendous left footer from 30 metres out.
The South Africans went into this game at the back end of an intensive three-week training camp in Brazil where they played a total of seven matches against local clubs.
"We were in the lion’s cage here, and the team showed a lot of character by coming from behind, I am proud of them just for that," Parreira said.
"In the first half Paraguay was the better team and in the second half we took control of the proceedings - so the draw is a fair result.
"The likes of Brazil and Argentina have all come here and struggled, so we did well in this match."
The squad will next have another training camp in Germany in April before returning to South Africa in May to complete preparations for the World Cup opener against Mexico in Johannesburg on June 11.
France and Uruguay are the two other teams in South Africa's group.