Late US goal downs Bafana

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Durban - The USA handed Bafana Bafana their first defeat in four games to claim the 2010 Nelson Mandela Challenge Trophy at the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town, last night.

Seventeen-year-old Juan Agudelo on his debut scored the only goal of the match in the 85th minute.

After receiving a pass from fellow debutant, Norwegian-born Mikkel Diskerud, Agudelo scored from close range.

The scorecard at the end of the night left the South Africans still in search of their first win against the 25th ranked team in the world.

The South Africans, led by Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar, can consider themselves unlucky considering they worked hard throughout the game and challenged many loose balls.

England based Davide Somma, who wore the yellow and green for the first time, sprung into action early in the game after being tugged down in the penalty area. But the incident was brushed off by Kenyan referee Silvester Kirwa who chose not to award a penalty.

The American's first opportunity at goal came in the 22nd minute when Robbie Rogers tried to drive a low shot at the South African goal but goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune ,quick on his feet, saved the team in the first half, giving the 50 000 strong crowd something to cheer about.

Khune made three saves, two before the end of the first half and in the second half he quickly discarded Teal Bunbury's attempt at goal.

For the second time in the game, Somma was denied a spot kick by the Kenyan referee after being challenged inside the US penalty area by Eric Lichaj.

This was the Americans 12th game on South African soil in the past three years. In 2007, they played in South Africa for the first time in the Nelson Mandela Challenge, winning 1-0 in Johannesburg.

Somma, who was awarded man of the match, is confident that with time he can find his place in the squad, saying during a post match interview that "it will come".

The Leeds United player has already scored six goals in 10 matches in the English Championship (second tier).

Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane said despite the defeat, he is glad that young players got an opportunity to play.

US coach Bob Bradley said it was a good game for both teams and his men got stronger as the game went along.

Bradley was excited that the Americans won their second Nelson Mandela Challenge Trophy and added that South Africa has become a special place for the team given their success in the country.

The US have had an impressive track record on South African soil having reached the final of the 2009 Confederations Cup and the last 16 of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

President Jacob Zuma and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille were among the dignitaries attending the match.

Zuma briefly addressed the crowd asking them to enjoy the game that was played in honour of an icon, former President Nelson Mandela.