20 November 2013
Bafana Bafana shocked Spain 1-0 at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday evening, with Bernard Parker netting a superb 56th-minute winner. It was South Africa’s first win over the world’s number one ranked football team.
The defeat was only the second that Spain, ranked first in the world since 2008, have suffered in the past two years. Their only other loss was to Brazil in the Confederations Cup earlier this year. During that time the reigning European and World Cup champions have also recorded 25 wins and five draws.
“Thanks to the coach for having faith in the players. He has given us his belief and his faith, and we’re giving him what he expects from us, and that’s a good performance and a win,” Bafana captain Itumeleng Khune said in a television interview after the match.
‘Tactics were spot-on’
“His tactics were spot-on tonight. We planned a lot for Spain. People thought we didn’t stand a chance and we beat them,” Khune said.
Khune thanked the supporters at the match and used the occasion to call for greater support for local football. “This is what we want to see in our local football, people coming here and supporting the local teams and supporting local football because we are on the same level as the European players, and we can do better than them. If we can beat the world champions, who is there not to beat?”
“It’s a fantastic result,” coach Gordon Igesund said.
“I’m so pleased that we played a friendly like this because they are the world champions. You saw their attitude on the field. They were fighting for their lives out there as well, and I’m just pleased we were able to give the people something to think about going forward.
“Tonight our game plan was fantastic. Our players were fantastic. They executed tactically what we wanted to do.”
Spain, as they do against every opponent, dominated possession, but they rarely threatened as the South African team worked hard as a unit to disrupt the flow of the visitors’ attack
“We allowed them to have the ball in certain areas. When they got wide, we made sure they couldn’t get a cross in, but had to play back,” Igesund explained. “The guys executed [the game plan] well and I’m so pleased for them.”
Playing with discipline at the back, Bafana caught Spain offside time and again. David Villa had the ball in the back of the net as early as the fourth minute after being put through by Andres Iniesta, but he was caught in the offside trap and the strike was disallowed.
Man of the match Khune prevented Pedro getting a shot off after was picked out by Xabi Alonso, but only a minute later La Roja came close to going behind after Bernard Parker and Oupa Manyisa combined before Manyisa’s shot took a deflection off a defender and struck Iker Casillas’ crossbar. Parker, who turned in a superb performance, tested Casillas two minutes later, but the goalie was up to the challenge.
With half-an-hour played, Fernando Llorente failed to find the target with an open header.
Just before the break, Bongani Khumalo was just wide of the goal with a header from a corner delivered by Parker.
Substitute Siphiwe Tshabalala set up Tokelo Rantie with a fine pass early in the second half, but Rantie’s finish lacked composure and was well wide.
Nacho Monreal then saw a gap quickly closed down by Khune before Bafana took the lead in the 56th minute with a delightful goal.
Tokelo Rantie won possession on the left and delivered a cross along the ground towards Bernard Parker, who cleverly left the ball for Kamohelo Mokotjo. The dummy drew the defender towards Mokotjo, who one-timed it directly into Parker’s path. Victor Valdez, on for Casillas, sprinted off of his line to try to close down the angle. Parker, though, chipped the ball over the goalkeeper with his left foot. Valdez got a slight touch on it, but it wasn’t enough and the ball crossed the goal line despite the desperate efforts of Monreal to keep it out.
When Valdez later went down with a calf injury, there were brief angry scenes between the Spanish players and South Africa’s coach Gordon Igesund because Spain had used the maximum allowable six substitutes. A decision was made, however, to allow Pepe Reina to replace the Barcelona man in goal.
The crowd, interestingly, was relatively quiet, not celebrating their advantage, but wary that the game was far from over.
Vicente del Bosque’s charges pushed hard in search of an equaliser, but still South Africa’s defence held firm, and the world champions were almost caught out by a swift South African counter-attack.
Parker put Rantie clean through down the middle, with space to run and the ability to cut to either side of the goal. Rantie should have scored, but Reina did superbly to race out, make himself big, and block the shot.
With the game well into an additional five minutes of time, Napoli defender Raul Albiol got off a shot from close range, but Khune athletically knocked it away, much to the relief of the crowd.
The final whistle sounded and vuvuzelas blared once more as Bafana Bafana supporters celebrated one of the South African national football team’s finest nights.
Sounding a note of caution, Igesund said: “We’re not going to get carried away. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We know that, but we’re on the right track. I’m very pleased for the players and I’m pleased for everybody and especially for the supporters because they needed something like this.”
“We’ve got a terrific group of players,” midfielder Dean Furman weighed in. The squad is gelling all the time. We’re coming together and we’re getting stronger, and I think tonight we’ve shown what we can do against the best team in the world.”