1 June 2010
Bafana Bafana recorded their biggest international win yet when they thrashed Guatemala 5-0 at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Monday night. It was a fitting celebration for captain Aaron Mokoena, who became the first South African footballer to win 100 international caps.
South Africa’s previous biggest victories were a recent 4-0 win over Thailand and a 4-0 success against Chad in 2007.
Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said Bafana were not as good as they were technically in their draw with Bulgaria. Colombia, he said, was the side’s most difficult game so far, but he liked the attitude of the team against the 114th-ranked Guatemalans.
Parreira was questioned about striker Benni McCarthy, who stayed on the bench throughout the match. “There’s nothing wrong with him,” he said.
Referring to the announcement of the final World Cup squad of 23 player, due early on Tuesday morning, he continued: “We know all the players we need by now. It’s a daily assessment and we’re not going to judge a player on one match.”
Captain Aaron Mokoena, who during the game wore the number 100 on his back, said it was important to win and retain the momentum that Bafana Bafana has built up through 11 matches – six wins and five draws – without defeat.
“We made it easy for ourselves by scoring goals and we are on the right track,” he added.
Guatemala’s caretaker coach Francisco Melgar opined that the South African team is ready and well capable of defeating Mexico in the opening match of the World Cup.
South Africa’s effort on Monday night was helped by the referee in the 10th minute when he awarded the hosts a penalty for a hand ball. It seemed a harsh decision, but Katlego Mphela wasn’t about to second guess the ref and slotted the kick to put Bafana into an early lead.
Defender Carlos Gallaerdo headed wide for Guatemala after a quarter-of-an-hour, but South Africa was in charge and coach Parreira’s charges went two goals up after 26 minutes when midfielder Reneilwe Letsholonyane netted.
Left-back Lucas Thwala, heeding a call by Parreira after Bafana’s previous game against Colombia for more attacking play from the wing-backs, ventured forward and after a strong run crossed for Letsholonyane. The Kaizer Chiefs’ man met the ball on the volley and beat goalkeeper David Guerra all ends up.
Bafana were comfortably in charge of proceedings, but failed to add to their first half tally, although Siphiwe Tshabalala came close with a powerful strike that flew wide of the mark.
Coach Parreira introduced Surprise Moriri at the start of the second half and it proved to be an inspired decision as Morori struck from close range after being set up by Katlego Mphela.
Just two minutes later, Guatemala had a good opportunity to pull a goal back when Thwala was blown up for handling the ball in the area. Like the referee’s first penalty award, it was a doubtful decision.
Guatemala’s skipper Guillermo Ramirez took on the responsibility of taking the spot kick, but he was denied by Moneeb Josephs, who made a smart save to preserve Bafana’s clean sheet.
Second penalty netted
Only five minutes after that, in another questionable decision, the referee awarded a third penalty in the match, deeming Gustavo Cabrera to have handled the ball in the box. Mphela again stepped up tothe mark and once more buried the ball in the back of the net.
Midfield ace Steven Pienaar came close to increasing Bafana’s lead when he struck a powerful shot from distance, but it was kept out by the woodwork.
Substitute Bernard Parker then added South Africa’s fifth goal eight minutes from time with a superb solo effort.
He beat two players and then, shooting from 25 metres out, blasted the ball across the face of goal and into the top corner of the net to put a fitting exclamation mark on Bafana’s big win.
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