South Africa and Ivory Coast draw 1-1 in friendly
South Africa and Ivory Coast drew 1-1 in their friendly at
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday, with neither team able to
strike a decisive blow despite the presence of plenty of
Europe-based big names.
Siboniso Gaxa’s own goal under pressure from attacking
midfielder Gervinho put Ivory Coast ahead in the 36th minute in
South Africa’s annual Nelson Mandela Challenge.
Striker Katlego Mphela smashed in a 53rd-minute free kick to
bring Bafana Bafana level.
Steven Pienaar combined with Mphela to set up Reneilwe
Letsholonyane on 60 minutes but he shot over for South Africa in
one of a host of missed chances at both ends.
Ivorian striker Seydou Doumbia was twice denied by sharp saves
from goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs.
Yaya and Kolo Toure both started for Ivory Coast alongside
Gervinho, while Pienaar returned for South Africa after a lengthy
Salomon Kalou and Didier Ya Konan appeared as second-half
substitutes for the visitors.
Yaya Toure was prominent for the opening goal when his shot was
blocked by Kagisho Dikgacoi and looped into the air, and Gaxa’s
attempt at a clearing header ahead of Gervinho went into his own
Striker Mphela sent a powerful long-range free kick through the
defensive wall and past stationary goalkeeper Boubacar Barry for
the equalizer early in the second half, halting Ivory Coast’s
winning run in 2011.
Africa’s top-ranked team had won all six of its matches this
year – competitive and friendly – before Saturday’s draw.
”A very, very exciting game, very attacking,” Ivory Coast
coach Francois Zahoui said, speaking through a translator. ”We got
opportunities but weren’t able to use them. But overall I’m
Playing as a lone forward, Mphela broke clear in the 15th but
pushed a weak shot straight at the Belgium-based Barry. The Ivorian
‘keeper also kept out a flashing header from Morgan Gould midway
through the half.
The teams continued to push forward to the end, but Barry and
Josephs – who had a fine double save to deny the dangerous Doumbia
in the 65th – thwarted the attackers.
”Fantastic friendly game and I think 1-1 is a good result,”
Yaya Toure said.