Date: January 19th, 2015
Venue: Estadio de Mongomo
Match Result: 3-1
Goal Scorers: 0-1, Thuso Phala 50’; 1-1, Thulani Hlatshwayo (OG) 67’; 2-1, Faouzi Ghoulam 72’; 3-1, Islam Slimani 83’
The GSV Top Class Award
Very little credit goes to gaffers when their side plays badly for large parts of an encounter and still manage to turn the result around, Christian Gourcuff has no right to be pleased with his lads after their under performance in this clash; yet the gaffer didn’t sit on his hands while his side got out played, he made changes that inspired a more determined performance from his charges and stole a victory from the jaws of defeat. The number one side in Africa showed why they are top of the pile, thanks to timely substitutions from their gaffer, The Dessert Foxes proved to South Africa that you can play well and lose if you allow a good side a sniff at getting something out of the game. The GSV Top Class Award deservedly goes to a gaffer who refused to accept defeat and rallied his troops from the touchline, Christian Gourcuff my good man; you are the winner of our GSV Top Class Award.
The GSV Class Clown Award
It’s never a happy moment when this award has to be handed out, yet there is no hiding from it or ducking the responsibility; there may be a few candidates for this one after that showing, yet only one lad stood out head and shoulders above the rest for the GSV Class Clown Award. Tokelo Rantie had a terrible day at the office, tasked with leading the line alone for Bafana, he showed that he still lacks the needed composure to be a top level forward at the international echelon; Rantie missed a few chances during the game, his penalty miss was just the icing on a very distasteful cake. The lad should have put the result to bed early in the half, his miss saw a few heads drop in the squad and he has thoroughly earned the GSV Class Clown award for letting his nation down with his lack of finishing ability and composure during the game.
The Grand Stand View
This entertaining Group C encounter promised to dish up a lot of surprises, and it did not disappoint at all; the neutrals were treated to what has to go down as the game of the tournament thus far. Algeria attacked well and landed a few jabs in the opening exchanges, South Africa seemed prepared to sit deeper and absorb that pressure as their two defensive midfield players looked comfortable in the double-pivot; Andile “The Xhosa Gattuso” Jali and Dean “Baby Tinkler” Furman were simply magnificent in diverting the traffic out wide, forcing The Dessert Foxes to play in crosses from the flanks or take speculative shots from outside the box. Keeper Darren Keet was exemplary in the opening stanza, swallowing up anything that came into the box and leading the squad from the back, South Africa begun to gain the ascendency in the latter stages of the 1st half and they could and probably should have netted two goals before the end of the half as their play begun to peg their more illustrious opponents deeper into their own half.
Tokelo Rantie was making good runs in behind the opposition defence, yet a lack of composure and technical ability continually let him down after he got himself into great positions. Wunderkind central defender Rivaldo Coetzee was taken off midway through the 1st half in considerable distress, one hopes that the injury is not as bad as it seemed; Coetzee has established himself as a cornerstone of that South Africa defence and they didn’t look as solid without him or the suspended Mulomowandau Mathoho.
The half ended with a flurry of great chances for South Africa with Sibusiso Vilakazi and Jali joining Rantie on the list of players guilty of wasting their chances, an unacceptable lack of composure at international level; Algeria knew they were lucky to be going into the half level with Bafana Bafana as they were thoroughly outplayed for large parts of the 1st half.
South Africa begun the second stanza on a higher gear than they had played in the 1st, kicking on and playing their interchanges with confidence; a well worked move between Vilakazi and Rantie found Thuso Phala in some space, the robust winger banged in the opening goal for South Africa and had many on the continent believing there was an upset on the cards. The South Africans were rampant, creating havoc for The Dessert Foxes defensively, they won themselves a penalty after a terrible challenge by defender Aïssa Mandi lead to Bafana having a shot at putting their opponents further behind the 8 ball. Mandi was booked for his challenge, yet it probably should have been a red card to the Stade Reims defender. Up stepped the hard running Tokelo Rantie to take the spot kick, he crashed his effort against the upright when it was easier to score; heads seemed to drop immediately and Bafana could have easily conceded an equaliser, were it not for a brilliant double save from stopper Keet. At international level, chances need to be taken, especially when you are playing the best side on the continent; Rantie begun to force the issue in an attempt to make amends for his penalty miss, it only resulted in him missing what should have been his hat-trick goal.
Algeria gaffer Christian Gourcuff was a busy man, altering personnel and playing approach in an attempt to get his charges back into the game; those changes paid off handsomely as a speculative ball into the box was unfortunately headed into the back of his own net by South African defender Thulani Hlatshwayo, the own-goal was down to a lack of communication defensively as the keeper called for the ball and was already off his line. True champions show their mantle when they are against the ropes, Algeria smelled an opportunity to steal the result from under their opposition’s noses; they put the South Africans under pressure and it eventually told. Algeria left fullback Faouzi Ghoulam out muscled Oupa Manyisa out wide and cut into the box, his ferocious shot was too much for Keet to deal with; the stopper was well beaten at his near post.
From being a goal down with the prospect of conceding another, Algeria were now two up and looking rampant; the penalty miss from Rantie was now looking even more costly. Algeria begun to show their game management ability, knocking the ball around and frustrating their opponents with great composure; it took one moment of calamity from stopper Keet to finally put the result beyond doubt. Allowing a long range Islam Slimani strike to sneak under him and officially end Shakes Mashaba’s 12 match unbeaten run since taking the reigns. Algeria showed why they are ranked number one on the continent, under pressure for large parts of the game and still managing to get the result; The Dessert Foxes showed their composure and showed South Africa how to make dominance translate into a win.