at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
South Africa 0
Gordon Igesund believes Bafana Bafana can win the African Nations Cup, yet there may well be several thousand less who believe him after an abject mess of a display in Orlando last night.
The 17 000 or so at this stadium raised a fantastic atmosphere around the hour mark here yesterday, engaging in a joyous Mexican Wave and stomping their feet in unison.
Their song and dance, however, looked like a need to entertain themselves amid the desperate fare that took place on the field of play.
Igesund had promised to keep his cards close to his chest in this game, tactically and personnel-wise, with the opening Afcon encounter with Cape Verde just a week away.
If this was the case, one hopes this match was a giant ruse, because Bafana gave the impression of a side in no way prepared to take on and beat Africa’s best.
Igesund spent much of the final stages waving his arms around in protest at the refereeing, clearly believing his side might have had a couple of spot kicks.
But the main worry for the Bafana coach has to be that his side looked utterly bereft of ideas in front of goal.
Algeria presented a strong line of defence, and Bafana had no way through.
Igesund partnered Kagiso Dikgacoi and Dean Furman in midfield, a common choice in his era in charge of Bafana. But the pair appeared rusty, particularly Dikgacoi whose range of passing was utterly mediocre.
His opening stanza was summed up by a ridiculous attempt at an overhead kick, leaving him flat on his back after a complete air-swipe.
Thuso Phala was given another chance on the right wing, and as against Norway, was Bafana’s best attacking outlet, winning a couple of corners, though Bafana’s set-piece delivery was beyond awful.
It was tedious stuff, with the supporters becoming visibly aggrieved midway through the first half, though Bafana did brighten the evening slightly with a couple of chances towards the half-time break.
In the absence of an incisive pass of their own, it took a mis-placed backpass from Algeria left back Djamel Mesbah to give Katlego Mphela an opportunity, but his effort was saved by the legs of Rais Mbolhi.
Bernard Parker then cut in from the right, where he had moved as he and Phala swopped wings, and hit a left foot shot that Mbolhi pushed away extravagantly.
Algerian do, in Bafana’s defence, have excellent continental credentials these days, having made it to the 2010 World Cup on these very shores, and ranked currently as the second-best team in Africa.
Coach Vahid Halihodzic went into their final warm-up game without his strongest side, leaving the classy goalscorer Hilal Soudani on the bench, and his captain, Getafe midfielder Mehdi Lacen, was not even in the matchday squad.
The Desert Foxes for the most part of saw off the Afcon hosts with little bother, creating some excellent opportunities of their own with swift counter attacks, only poor finishing letting them down in front of goal.
Early on Soudani’s replacement, Islam Slimani, skinned Siyabonga Sangweni and fed left winger Foued Kadir, but he scuffed his effort well wide.
Kadir then turned provider, finding Hamer Bouazza, but his shot flew well over the bar. Algeria, unlike Bafana, were also a threat from set pieces, the giant defender Esseid Belkalem twice wasting excellent opportunities, unmarked inside the penalty area.
They threatened again at the start of the second half, Slimani hitting the side netting from a tight angle.
Igesund, meanwhile, brought on Reneilwe Letsholo-nyane, and the Chiefs midfielder shot wide from distance, when putting Mphela in on goal looked the better option. Another replacement, Siphiwe Tshabalala, did a little better with a long range effort, but his shot flew just over.
Igesund then got frustrated with the Lesotho referee, particularly over one penalty for “handball” he felt should have been given.
But Bafana appear to be going nowhere, with little time to remedy the situation. - Sunday Indepenent