Africa Cup of Nations 2013: South Africa struggle to Cape Verde draw
Africa Cup of Nations 2013: South Africa and Cape Verde play out a goalless draw in the Group A opener in Johannesburg
Hosts South Africa were left with it all to do after a lacklustre draw against Cape Verde Islands kicked off the Africa Cup of Nations in Johannesburg.
Played in front of a bumper crowd of almost 90,000, neither side’s performances lived up to the occasion and Cape Verde’s Luis Platini came closest to scoring in the first half.
South Africa struggled to create chances early on – Siphiwe Tshabalala’s free-kick was nodded wide by Bernard Parker before another set-piece forced keeper Vozinha into a save.
Platini had a glorious chance to put Cape Verde ahead on 14 minutes but lacked the composure of his French namesake and scuffed his shot wide from ten yards.
Both sides failed to get a stronghold on the game with South Africa’s long passes proving wasteful and their opponents lacking the cutting edge in front of goal.
Platini again came close for the Blue Sharks but he fired into the side netting from a tight angle while South Africa missed the creativity of the recently retired Steven Pienaar.
Cape Verde – featuring in their first ever African Cup – almost went into half-time in front but Ryan Mendes blazed over from close range.
Bafana Bafana improved following the break and Tshabalala came close after the ball rolled to him but his low effort was bravely parried by Vozinha.
The hosts put Lucio Antunes’ men under pressure but Platini’s snap-shot from long range flew wide of the goal as they tried to recover possession.
South Africa boss Gordon Igesund had raised eyebrows by leaving Katlego Mphela on the bench but the 23-goal man came on with 20 minutes remaining to try and snatch a goal.
Cape Verde showed signs of causing an upset and South Africa keeper Itumeleng Khune scrambled across his goal and palmed away Heldon’s diving header to keep the scores level.
But despite a late flurry of half-chances, neither side could grab a winner as the both began their campaigns in Group A with a point apiece.
Cape Verde could take many positives from the result but improvements are needed if the hosts want to repeat their 1996 heroics of winning the competition on home soil.