South Africa and Ivory Coast draw 1-1 in friendly

BY foxsports • November 12, 2011

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 net.

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 satisfied.''

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.

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