Soccer

SAfrica beats Burkina Faso in game for Mandela

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JOHANNESBURG (AP)

South Africa beat Burkina Faso 2-0 in a friendly dedicated to its anti-apartheid hero and former president Nelson Mandela, opening a unique day of sport at the 2010 World Cup stadium in Soweto where the national rugby team also played later Saturday.

Siphiwe Tshabalala turned and fired a crisp left-footed shot into the bottom corner in the 22nd minute, lifting a mixed crowd of football and rugby fans at FNB Stadium.

Luyolo Nomandela was initially awarded the second in injury time, although a half-saved shot from fellow substitute Lerato Chabangu appeared to have already crossed the line when Nomandela poked the ball into the net.

Although Burkina Faso was this year's African Cup runner-up and narrowly lost February's final against Nigeria at the same stadium, formerly Soccer City, this team was well understrength. South Africa goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was rarely tested until a couple of late chances for the visitors from West Africa.

Alassane Sango sent a long-range shot narrowly over and, in the last 10 minutes, substitute Simplice Yameogo only just missed connecting with a dangerous low cross that flashed across Khune's goal.

Tshabalala's opener capped almost complete dominance from Bafana Bafana in the first 20 minutes. The second goal came when Chabangu dodged his way past Burkinabe defenders to unleash a shot that was half-blocked by Mohamed Kabore. As the ball bounced toward goal, Nomandela made sure it went in.

South Africa and Burkina Faso both have crucial World Cup qualifiers next month, when they have to win their final group games to have a chance at progressing to Africa's final playoffs for a place in Brazil in 2014.

Later at FNB Stadium on Saturday, the Springboks opened their Rugby Championship campaign against Argentina as South Africa combined two of its favorite sports at one of its most important stadiums to honor its 95-year-old former leader Mandela, who has spent more than two months ill in a hospital.

Between the two games a South African Airways jet flew low over the orange-seated, 90,000-plus stadium, reviving memories of a similar stunt at rugby's famous 1995 World Cup final in Johannesburg. Mandela, famously wearing the national team jersey, inspired a newly-democratic, post-apartheid South Africa to victory on that occasion in one of the country's most poignant and unifying moments.

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Follow Gerald Imray at www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP

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