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Sports : Late goal sinks Bafana

A goal five minutes from time and against the run of play earned the United States a 1-0 win over hard working Bafana Bafana in the annual Nelson Mandela Challenge at a packed Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday night.

The only goal of the match was scored by 17-year-old US substitute Juan Agudelo, on his debut, in the 85th minute.

It was Bafana head coach Pitso Mosimane's first defeat in four matches in charge and the first time his side had conceded a goal since he replaced Carlos Alberto Parreira after the World Cup in August.

The countries met for the third time and Bafana have yet to score a goal against the US.

It was a disappointing night for president Jacob Zuma who was the main guest of honour, followed by Western Cape premier Helen Zille.

OUTPLAYED

There was no justice, however, for the home side. Bafana outplayed the experimental US side, ranked 25th in the world, for most of the match and even a draw looked to be generous to the visitors who were on the back foot for most of this game.

The US showed tremendous discipline and professionalism, though, to weather the storm and sneak home with a trophy.

Bafana were driven hard and new captain Steven Pienaar led from the front.

The Everton midfield star set a sterling example and ran himself into the ground and was replaced by youngster Daylon Claasen in the 78th minute.

Davide Somma despite not scoring impressed on debut with his willingness to work and showed that he has plenty to offer Bafana.

For a big man he is light on his feet and has pace. He looks like he will be an asset to Bafana and head coach Mosimane once he gets used to playing with his new international teammates and Bafana's style of play.

Bafana had the edge in the first half. The home side challenged for every loose ball as though their lives depended on it.

DENIED PENALTY

Somma almost had an immediate impact when he was denied a penalty by Kenyan referee Sylvester Kirwa in the 10th minute.

The Leeds United forward appeared to be fouled by US defender Clarence Goodson inside the danger area.

Four minutes later the bustling Somma laid off a superb through-ball for overlapping right-back Anele Ngcongca, who forced US goalkeeper Brad Guzan to make a desperate save at his near post.

Guzan showed his courage when he bravely dived at Bafana striker Bernard Parker to prevent the striker from getting a shot on goal in the 20th minute.

While Bafana were piling on the pressure, however, the visitors showed how dangerous they can be on the counter-attack.

It took a tremendous save from Bafana keeper Itumeleng Khune to stop hard-working US midfielder Robbie Rogers from getting a breakthrough with a powerful shot on the edge of the penalty area that the Kaizer Chiefs star did well to stop.

Bafana, roared on by a capacity 50 000 crowd, kept the US under pressure but could not find a way through the well marshalled defence in an entertaining first 45 minutes.

FRUSTRATED

South Africa looked frustrated at the start of the second half and looked to have run out of ideas, repeatedly playing the ball sideways and backwards.

US substitute Teal Bunbury forced Khune to make a smart save from a well taken shot in the 55th minute, which underlined the US tactic of patience and catching their hosts on the break.

Somma again was in the thick of the action and again was denied a spot kick by the Kenyan referee when he was bundled off the ball inside the US penalty area by Eric Lichaj in the 58th minute.

It was Somma's last act as Mosimane pulled him out of the battle two minutes later and replaced him with Sthembiso Ngcobo. The crowd showed their appreciation by applauding the striker when he left the field.

Ngcobo showed his willingness to run at defenders and take them on when he broke through the US defence and unleashed a thunderbolt that hit the side netting in the 65th minute.

Bafana's frustration became evident in the 70th minute when Siphiwe Tshabalala, who was bottled up in the second half, took a wild shot from 35 metres that went well wide of the goal.

Just when the match seemed headed for a draw, however, Agudelo forced his way through the stranded Bafana defence and beat Khune with a powerful shot in the 85th minute to ensure the visitors lifted the trophy.

The US have won the Nelson Mandela Challenge twice, having defeated Bafana by the same score in 2007 at Ellis Park. Source SUPERSPORT

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Tags: Mandela   Bafana   Nelson   USA   Challenge  


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