Bafana Bafana end losing streak

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pretoria - Bafana Bafana on Saturday ended their losing streak during their international friendly against Japan when they drew nil-nil.

They played the 40th ranked country at the 48 000-capacity Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Although Bafana's fans had expected better results, the hard-fought 0-0 draw was a step in the right direction after losing eight out of their last nine matches.

The team looked different after the return of the Brazilian head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira. He seemed to have realised that the team were failing to produce good results because of a defensive football strategy.

From the start of the match on Saturday, Bafana players kept going forward clearly indicating that they were looking for a goal.

However, the absence of sensational midfielder, Steven Pienaar was visible as Orlando Pirates player, Teko Modise and Siphiwe Tshabalala of Kaizer Chiefs did not connect well.

Another lack of combination between defensive midfielder, Macbeth Sibaya and another out of form Kagiso Dikgacoi led strikers Benni McCarthy and Katlego Mphela to come deep and collect the ball.

This forced the visitors, who have already booked a place in the 2010 FIFA World Cup lineup, to put more pressure on Bafana Bafana.

Orlando Pirates goal keeper, Moeneeb Josephs, who won the man of the match title, frustrated the Japanese strikers with his spectacular saves.

In the 11th minute, in an eye-catching move, he fisted away Makoto Hasebe shot over his cross-bar. Josephs also brilliantly saved Shinji Okazaki's shot in the 78th minute.

Unlike his predecessor, Parreira replaced Teko Modise Elrio van Heerden, Dikgacoi, for Reneilwe Letsholonyane, and Tshabalala, for SuperSport United left wing Daine Klate.

Parreira also took off Blackburn Rovers striker, Benni McCarthy and replaced him with Bernard Parker, who on several occasions when Bafana were posing threat to the Japanese defence opted to pass the ball to team-mates while in a good position to unleash a rocket.

While the return of Parreira is clearly visible, much more still need to be done before next year's mega tournament.

Bafana takes on Jamaica in another international friendly in Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein on Tuesday.