SOUTH AFRICA 2-0 ANGOLA
Hopes were high for the first match of the second round of matches in an almost full Moses Mabhida stadium between hosts South Africa and Morocco.
Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund decided to make a mini revolution in the starting XI. Dean Furman and May Mahlangu came in for the injured Kagisho Dikgacoi and Siphiwe Tshabalala. Katlego Mphela and Tokelo Rantie would now lead the attack.
In the Angolan camp, Gustavo Ferrín brought on Guilherme to play alongside goalscorer Manucho, keeping the rest of the line-up intact.
South Africa dominate as Angola nap
The first chance of the match came from Bongani Khumalo who put a header wide after a set piece.
South Africa controlled the first half with ease, mostly thanks to the connection that Furman made with defense and attack, with patience on the ball and using simple but accurate passes to begin the offensive plays.
The first goal came at the half hour mark by centre-back Siyanbonga Sangweni, who made the best of Lunguinha’s poor clearance with a lovely volley to open up the score and increase the the volume of the swarm of vuvuzelas.
Angola were almost anonymous in the first half, apart from a Manucho shot that was easily saved by Khune, a few minutes after the goal.
Angola just didn’t have the will
In the second half Angola started a bit better with Mateus crossing to Guilherme, who had his shot well saved by Khune.
Despite this, it was South Africa the team that had the advantage and Furman almost made the 2-0 with a good shot from outside the box, just saved by Lamá.
The 2-0 did come shortly afterwards, though. A counter-attack by Lehlohonolo Majoro, who follows up with two bits of individual skill, getting past Bastos and then tapping the ball through Lamá’s legs to give Bafana Bafana some security in the match.
Afterwards, South Africa began to relax (much to Gordon Igesund’s dislike), but Angola didn’t have the capacity to reply effectively, with only a couple of opportunities that didn’t bother Khune too much.
Before the final whistle, Angola almost managed to score and suffer in the same play, with Masilela nearly making an own goal after a set piece. The ball was caught by Khune who launched it perfectly to Majoro, but the following shot wasn’t up to par.
2-0 the final score. Angola find themselves in trouble and South Africa are now the favourites to top the group.
Man of the match: Dean Furman
The Oldham man was the equivalent of finding that final piece in the puzzle that somehow managed to go under the couch. His simple, yet highly productive style of play, with simple forward passes was what South Africa needed and it worked like a charm.
CAPE VERDE 1-1 MOROCCO
Cape Verde were denied a tournament-shaking upset after Morocco awakened from their slumber in the final 30 minutes to salvage a 1-1 draw. Portugal-based striker Platini deftly chipped past Morocco goalkeeper Nadir Lamyaghri to record debutants’ inaugural goal in the Cup of Nations. Morocco equalised with 12 minutes to play, Youssef El Arabi sweeping home after Abdelaziz Barrada’s cut-back.
The Blue Sharks bite wounds the Atlas Lions
With the earlier kick-off injecting a doctrine of joie de vivre into the host nation and consequently gluing a noticeable Bafana Bafana faithful to their seats for the evening clash, Cape Verde and Morocco both deployed attacking formations in search of positive results which would go some way to determining their destinies.
Whereas Cape Verde set up in a bona-fide 4-3-3 with Ryan Mendes and Luis ‘Platini’ Suarez on either side of the powerful target man Julio Tavares, Morocco lined up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation. The main difference for the Atlas Lions is that they attempted to accommodate the quartet of Younes Belhanda, Nordin Amrabat, Oussama Assaidi and Abdelaziz Barrada; the latter stationed next to to Karim El Ahmadi in the midfield pivot in an unfamiliar position as Adil Hermach dropped to the bench. The other change for Morocco came at left back, where the defensive solidity of Abdelhamid El Kaoutari was sacrificed for the attacking acumen of Zakaria Bergdich.
Cape Verde were in the ascendancy for the entirety of the first half, the patience of their players in possession sealed by Mendes’ explosiveness in attack. Morocco, meanwhile, delivered the kind of toothless performance that was customary during Eric Gerets’ ill-fated reign. With their attacking players AWOL, the game rendered into a scrappy, stop-start affair as their centre-backs Mehdi Benatia and Essam El Adoua were over-enthusiastic challenges and struggled to nullify the brawn of Tavares, giving a plethora of free-kicks in dangerous zones for the Blue Sharks in the process.
Cape Verde were wasteful with their free-kicks until Mendes eventually drove one on target on the half hour, forcing a smart parry from Lamyaghri. The Blue Sharks deservedly took the lead on the 35th minute when Mendes burst forward and slipped the ball through to Platini, who dinked the ball over the onrushing Lamyaghri.
Taoussi rings the changes early in the second half
Morocco coach Rachid Taoussi has forged a ruthless reputation after excluding the likes of Houssine Kharja, Mbark Boussoufa and Marouane Chamakh from this tournament’s squad, and he didn’t hesitate to make the changes in the second half. The ineffectual Amrabat was the first to make way at half-time, the dynamism of Youssef El Arabi jettisoned into his place as Morocco transitioned in a loose 4-4-2.
Yet the change made no difference as Cape Verde remained at their pluckiest self as Morocco still hadn’t created or shown any sort of urgency in the opening 10 minutes of the half. The anonymous Assaidi was next to make way for Chahir Belghazouani, and with Belhanda already on a yellow and seemingly going out of his way to accumulate a red card, his hot-headedness was the next to make way for Kamel Chafni just past the hour.
With impetus in their ranks and Cape Verde tiring and substituting retreating to a defensive stratagem, the Maghrebians finally found an equaliser on the 78th minute. Cape Verde left-back Nivado was sucked into midfield, leaving Barrada to race down the right flank and cut the ball back for substitute El Arabi, who rifled it past Vozinha.
Both sides had chances to win it thereafter through their substitutes. Heldon’s dragged effort, which was too close to Lamyaghri, almost instantly restored Cape Verde’s lead while El Arabi and Chafni also went close for Morocco.
Man of the Match: Ryan Mendes
The Lille forward applied the fusion of effervescence, dynamism and productivity that saw him feature in SFG’s 10 Forwards to watch. His craft and ability to go past players were the major reasons why Cape Verde nearly pulled off an upset. It’s no wonder that once he went off Cape Verde no longer looked like scoring.