South Africa . . . . . . . . (1) 1
Morocco . . . . . . . . . . . . (0) 1
El Adoua 49
Agadir New Stadium - Bafana Bafana made a satisfactory case for a new beginning on Friday, somewhat pooping the party at the opening of this sparkling stadium.
Gordon Igesund can leave Agadir content that he has begun to lay the foundations for the future of the Bafana side, handing debuts to the likes of Sibusiso Vilakazi, Ayanda Patosi and Kgosi Nthle, and seeing excellent performances from other fresh faces like Daylon Claasen and Tokelo Rantie.
If Bafana failed to build on a brilliant first-half display, the Bafana coach can point to a raft of substitutions after the break, and satisfaction at a resilient draw on foreign soil.
This South African side certainly showed signs that they can make a decent fist of returning to Morocco for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. Many Moroccan fans had left before the final whistle here, a sign that they were not content with their own side’s display.
The Atlas Lions came back well in the second half, but they certainly have work to do to be successful on the home soil in around a year and a half’s time.
Interestingly, a select group of supporters seemed only to stay for the earlier game yesterday, a club match between local top flight side HUSA and Algerian outfit JS Kabylie. They hung banners from the stands like ‘Curva Nord’, ‘Red Rebels’ and ‘Front Battle’, with the flag of the Berber tribe also prominent.
Some Moroccans seem so out of love with there national team that they walk out before they start playing. Those that did stay behind, all 37 000 or so, however, blasted out their national anthem with a goose-bumping vigour, on a beautiful warm evening in Agadir.
Bafana coach Gordon Igesund made good on his promise to field some younger faces against the Atlas Lions, with a view to the 2015 African Nations Cup and beyond.
Bidvest Wits captain Vilakazi made his debut in the heart of midfield while Siyanda Xulu appeared for only the second time for South Africa, partnering Bongani Khumalo in the centre of defence. Elsewhere, Claasen started on the right side of midfield, and Rantie led the line, with Bernard Parker tucked just behind him.
The Moroccan crowd were in excellent voice early on, singing their lungs out, but it was Bafana produced the tuneful football on the field.
Igesund’s men had a chance as early as the second minute, after a mistake from Morocco left back Zouhair Feddal let Claasen in, but he lashed his shot well over the bar.
Rantie then gave the first sign that he was in the mood, going on a mazy, whippet-like solo run, but finishing it off with a tame effort that dribbled into the arms of Mohamed Asif.
Khune then had to be alert to tip wide a venomous Yousef El Arabi header, the Granada striker generating impressive power from some distance out.
But Bafana were in front in the 9th minute, as Rantie used his considerable pace to sprint clear of the Atlas Lions defence and finish low past Amsif.
Bafana’s young guns were firing, and Claasen produced a wondrous piece of skill down the right to dismantle Feddal. If his cutback was not so spectacular, the crowd had already begun to quieten, the Mexican Wave the dominant presence by now.
Morocco created a few more opportunities before the break, Abdelaziz’s shot flying just wide, Khune leaping to save Mehdi Benatia’s header, and the Bafana shotstopper then producing a flying save to keep out an even better effort from the Roma defender.
But it was Bafana who had a fantastic opportunity to double their lead before half time, Vilakazi running onto Parker’s splendid pass, but his near post shot was saved, when going across Amsif was surely the better option.
Morocco were getting a bit of joy down the Bafana right, Anele Ngcongca, unusually for him, caught out of position a couple of times, Khumalo and Xulu there to cut out Zakarya Bergdich’s crosses.
But Bafana were dominating most areas, Khune looking to release Rantie almost every time he touched the ball, Furman getting in amongst them in the middle of the park, and the runs of Vilakazi, Lerato Chabangu and Rantie bamboozling the Moroccan defence.
Some of Bafana’s passing began to gain applause from the stands, and the Atlas Lions team were booed off at half time.
Rachid Taoussi threw on the mercurial Adel Taarabt at half time, and Morocco came out like a side possessed, level inside four minutes. A dubious free kick was given against Daylon Claasen, but Younes Belhanda’s delivery was superb, and Levante defender Issam El Adoua headed past Khune.
Igesund had made his own change at half time, Bongani Zungu on for Vilakazi. And not long after Morocco scored, the Bafana coach handed Ayanda Patosi his Bafana debut.
Nthle was next to be given his first cap, and with 13 minutes to go, the Peterborough left back was lucky to be spared his blushes, as he stumbled in the area, gifting possession to Ayoub El Khaliqi, who shot wide. - Saturday Star