12 November 2012
Coach Clive Barker heaped praise on his squad at the end of a pulsating game in which South Africa’s 1996 Legends defeated the visiting German Legends 2-1 at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Saturday night.
Admittedly some of the players could no longer tackle, run or track back like they used to during their playing days, but German coach Eric Rutemoller confessed that the South Africans were worthy winners of the game, which was played in honor of the late former Bafana Bafana coach Thomas Madigage.
“We knew that the South Africans were technically good and very, very skillful,” said Rutemoller. “We aimed to close them down, but it proved simply too impossible, especially their number 15 [‘Doctor’ Khumalo] who really had a fantastic match as he controlled the pace of the game.”
The opening goal came from Jerry Sikhosana, who came off the bench for Phil Masinga and curled in a beauty past German goalkeeper Oliver Reck in the 47th minute.
The heart and soul of the team, “Doctor” Khumalo, crowned a near faultless performance by slipping the ball under the diving Reck following a great through ball from Zane Moosa in the 57th minute for the second South African strike.
“We showed a lot of character out there,” said Barker. “We showed that we can still play a bit, and Zane and Doc reminded me of those glory days. I think they were brilliant and I have said this in the past, but Mark Fish was phenomenal as well.
‘Football is entertainment’
“I thought Jerry [Sikhosana] took his goal very well and Doc had the crowd on their feet. Football is entertainment, and I’d like to believe we gave the spectators what they wanted. I did the airplane celebration, a bit slow yes, but one nonetheless.”
Some have certainly bulked up considerably, others are sporting grey hair, while some have none, yet they still command a lot of respect among the South African public which cheered them throughout the match.
Khumalo, in particular, might have missed his 1996 partner in crime in Lesiba Moshoeu as they mesmerized the opposition to lead Bafana to triumph, but on Saturday night he had Zane Moosa alongside him to rekindle memories of those heady days with “Shoes”.
With former midfield hardmen Linda Buthelezi and Eric Tinkler missing, it was up to Mark Fish and Helman Mkhalele to steady things up in the middle. Their work allowed Khumalo and Moosa the freedom of the Peter Mokaba field.
Khumalo must have wondered if he was jinxed when twice from point blank range the German goalkeeper Oliver Reck thwarted him with incredible reflex saves, first using his feet to keep “Mtungwa” out and then diving strongly to his right to deny the South African legend.
Captain Neil Tovey’s legs were the first to give in and he was substituted by Andrew Tucker in the 19th minute. Five minutes later, Helman Mkhalele had a great chance to give the hosts the lead, but his shot flew high and wide.
‘Legs of Thunder’
Barker was forced to send on Jerry “Legs of Thunder” Sikhosana in the 33rd minute for Masinga, who showed visible signs of having had enough of the physical demands of a match in which the Germans were not prepared to give an inch, with Thomas Doll in particular proving to be a menace.
In the end, Germany pulled one goal back – a soft penalty in which David Nyathi was adjudged to have brought down Doll was converted by Marko Rehmer, but it was too little too late.
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