25 October 2013
Reigning world and European football champions Spain will return to the scene of their greatest triumph, the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, for a friendly international against South Africa on 19 November, SA Football Association president Danny Jordaan announced on Thursday.
It will be the first time the world number one ranked Spanish return to South Africa since they clinched the World Cup in 2010 after an extra-time victory over the Netherlands at the same venue – then known as Soccer City – thanks to a goal in the 116th minute by midfielder Andres Iniesta.
Making the announcement in Johannesburg, Jordaan the match would kick-start a number of high-profile games featuring top footballing countries against Bafana Bafana.
“It is the new Safa executive’s mission to make Bafana Bafana world-beaters again and we have lined up top-class sides to play our senior national team,” he said. “We could not have asked for a better start of this campaign than with the game against the reigning Fifa World Cup champions.
“It is a dream come true for many soccer fans to once again see the likes of Iniesta and Xavi in action at the venue where they made history by lifting their first World Cup trophy. This is going to be a block-buster of a game.”
The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) said it was excited to return to the city and the venue that gave them fame.
“We wish to demonstrate our gratitude for the wonderful hospitality of the South African sports authorities and the support of the country’s football fans during the 2010 South Africa World Cup, where Spain was proclaimed champion for the first time in history,” Spanish Football Association President Angel Maria Villar Llona said in a statement.
“At the end of the match, played on 11 July 2010 at the same stadium, the top officials of the RFEF expressed their thanks for the support received and promised to return to South Africa to play a friendly match, in the same way we did in Vienna after winning the Euro 2008.”
Safa CEO Dennis Mumble commented: “We are excited by this honour to play Spain and we ask all football lovers to rush to buy their tickets for this rare occasion as soon as ticket sales open. More information will be released in the next few days.”
Bafana Bafana have met Spain twice previously, with both matches taking place during the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup.
In Mangaung, the European champions recorded a routine 2-0 victory over South Africa in group play, but a shock loss to the USA, which ended a record unbeaten run of 15 matches, relegated them to the playoff for third and fourth against the hosts.
The game turned out to be a cracker, with Spain edging it 3-2 after extra time.
After a goalless first half, Katlego Mphela gave Bafana the lead after kneeing Siphiwe Tshabalala’s cross past Iker Casillas in the Spanish goal.
Spain desperately sought an equaliser and finally, with only three minutes remaining on the clock, Daniel Guiza found it after, beating goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune to his right to level matters.
Two minutes later, in the 89th minute, it looked as if Spain had snatched victory when Guiza lofted a stunning goal over Khune that made it just inside the far post.
An additional three minutes of play was signalled by the official on the sideline, but the contest appeared to be over. With time running out, however, South Africa won a free kick 35 metres out, directly in front of the Spanish goal.
To the joyous roar of the crowd, Mphela unleashed a cracking strike to beat Casillas with a rocket into the top corner of the goal.
In extra time, Xabi Alonso found a winner for Spain. He fired in a free kick, Fernando Llorente failed to make contact with the ball, but his run distracted goalkeeper Khune and the ball found its way into the left hand corner of the home team’s goal.
South Africa pressed hard for an equaliser, but they couldn’t find it and Spain emerged victorious after a wonderful clash.