Bafana cruise to victory over Kenya
South Africa’s preparations for their crucial 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Egypt next month appear to be well on track after Bafana Bafana defeated Kenya 2-0 in a friendly international at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on Wednesday evening.
Pitso Mosimane’s men again should have racked up a more comprehensive score line against clearly inferior opponents, but considering it was the national team’s first game in three months, the 2-0 win – secured thanks to first half goals from Davide Somma and Steven Pienaar – is a satisfactory result.
Mosimane opted for a starting XI that excluded captain Aaron Mokoena, pairing Bongani Khumalo and Siyabonga Sangweni in central defence, while Pienaar was handed the honour of wearing the armband.
Bafana Bafana got off to the perfect start, with Somma scoring his first goal for the national team just over a minute into the game.
Right-back Anele Ngcongca played in a superb low cross and the Leeds United striker provided a deft touch to turn the ball home from a position ahead of the near post.
Somma should have scored a second and a third within the opening quarter-hour, hitting the post from a similar position to that which he scored from and then wasting a one-on-one chance against Kenya’s goalkeeper Zacharia Onyango.
On 19 minutes Siphiwe Tshabalala almost scored direct from a free kick, curling his shot just wide of Onyango’s left-hand post as Bafana Bafana continued to overrun their visitors and create scoring chances seemingly at will.
Kenya rarely threatened anything in attack, though star player Dennis Oliech did get a run at South Africa’s centre-backs midway through the first half and hit a fierce shot on target, only to find the safe hands of Itumeleng Khune.
Pienaar’s influence drifting inside off the right flank was key to the host’s fluency and the midfielder should have scored in the 24th minute after being out through on goal, but he pulled his left-footed effort wide of the target.
Just over ten minutes later Oliech almost drew the Harambee Stars level, wrong-footing Sangweni with a neat body swerve before shooting just wide of the post with a left-footed grass-cutter.
Somma continued to be a thorn in the side of Kenya’s defence, though he missed another great chance in the 43rd minute when he was unable to turn home a fine cross from left-back Mzivukile Tom.
In injury time at the end of the first half Andile Jali almost doubled the lead, forcing a great save from Onyango. However, the goalkeeper was beaten just a few seconds later when Pienaar fired a low shot through a crowded penalty area and found the back of the net for just his third goal in Bafana Bafana colours.
The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder came close to another goal in the 57th minute, hitting the top of the crossbar with a dipping free kick, though in fairness Onyango appeared to have the shot covered had it been just a touch lower.
By this stage both teams had begun to shuffle their packs with numerous substitutions. Bafana Bafana called on Morgan Gould, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Thulani Serero, Thembinkosi Fanteni, Siboniso Gaxa and Matthew Pattison at various stages in the second half, while Kenya also utilised their full six allowed changes.
South Africa (2) 2 (Somma 2’, Pienaar 45+2’)
SA: (4-4-2) Khune; Ngcongca (Gaxa 78’), Sangweni, Khumalo (Gould 46’), Tom; Pienaar (Letsholonyane 65’), Jali, Khuboni (Pattison 84’), Tshabalala; Parker (Serero 71’), Somma (Fanteni 73’)
Kenya: (4-4-2) Onyango; Maloba, M. Mohammed (Wahoma 78’), Ochieng, Wamalwa (Atudo 55’); Omondi (Mugalia 57’), Omollo, J. Mohammed (Okoth 68’), Oliech; Mugube (Were 56’), Gateri (Kimani 64’)
Referee: Ruzive (Zimbabwe)
Cautions: Fanteni; Onyango