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

injury layoff.

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.