Skip to content

Africa Cup of Nations: Cape Verde takes point from first match, draws hosts South Africa

Jan 19, 2013, 1:23 PM EDT

South Africa's goalkeeper Khune catches ball during opening match of AFCON 2013 soccer tournament in Soweto Reuters

It wasn’t the glamorous opening for which most tournaments hope, but early response labeling the match dour or poor are exaggerations. At least, they lack some crucial context. We’ve seen the four-team, three-match group format play out often enough to know opening games can be excessively cagey. Most teams end up happy with a point and something to build on, and to a certain extent, both South Africa and Cape Verde can take that view after Saturday’s 0-0 final.

For South Africa, it would be a generous description. Though they are ranked lower than Cape Verde, they were the favorites going into the match. The disappointments on fan faces after the final whistle spoke to those expectations. While the team struggled coming into the tournament, they were still the hosts, and against a team lacking big names and was making their Cup of Nations debut, the vuvuzela-playing supporters at Johannesburg’s half-full FNB Stadium expected a win.

There were points in the second half then it looked like they could get it. Wide attacker Thuso Phala was consistently able to get behind the defense from the right, his speed creating a series of half chances in the second period. Bernard Parker was unable to find a goal.

LATER: Angola, Morocco end where they start

Head coach Gordon Ingesund tried to push his team for full points. He brought on Lerato Chabangu for defensive midfielder Kagiso Dikagcoi at half time. Thulani Serero for Siphiwe Tshabalala should have meant more creativity, while Katlego Mphela for Lehlohonolo Majoro up top gave South Africa a more proven goal scorer.

Though the midfield changes helped the Bafana Bafana maintain more possession, their threat was never truly manifested. South Africa didn’t deserve more than the 0-0 result.

“My players didn’t come to the party,” Ingesund said of his team’s first 45 minutes. “The first half was a complete waste.”

Instead, Cape Verde was the team closer to goals, with Ryan Mendes nearly breaking through multiple times in the first half. Streaking through a South Africa defense that often looked slow and slightly disorganized, Mendes and partner Heldón saw multiple opportunities to make something happen in the home side’s penalty box. But the final ball just never came, and the debutants were left with a series of near chances from sharp angles which never truly tested Itumeleng Khune.

But unlike South Africa, the Verdeans have legitimate reason to be happy after the match. While it wouldn’t have been too much to expect them to win today, it was their first Cup of Nations game, a test that can prove distracting for an inexperienced side. Add in the element of playing the home team in the tournament’s opening match and there were a number of factors that made this anything an atypical contest. Going forward, Cape Verde will be able to draw on this experience.

“I am happy, the players are happy and the technical staff are happy.” head coach Lucio Antunes said post-game.

“Today we [dignified] Cape Verde and left with [our heads] held high.”

Through much of the second half, it looked like Cape Verde could concede and become that wide-eyed team that starts strong but ultimately’s left with nothing to show for it. That didn’t happen, and with their point, the Sharks are a win away from being competitive for a knockout round spot.

A win and a draw would likely send Cinderella through. With Angola and Morocco ahead, it’s not an impossible scenario.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Diego Costa could be out four to six weeks with hamstring injury

    Aug 27, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Pre-Season Friendly - "Vitesse Arnhem v Chelsea" Getty Images

    Reports indicate Chelsea striker Diego Costa has suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him out of the side for four to six weeks.

  2. Samuel Eto’o announces international retirement from Cameroon

    Aug 27, 2014, 10:24 PM EDT

    Soc Wcup Cameroon Samuel Eto'o AP

    Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o has announced his retirement from international football.

  3. Calum Chambers, Danny Rose and Fabian Delph all set for England call-ups

    Aug 27, 2014, 9:36 PM EDT

    Source: Arsenal FC Source: Arsenal FC

    The BBC is reporting that Calum Chambers, Danny Rose and Fabian Delph are all set for England call-ups.

  4. Report: Geoff Cameron injured in Stoke City’s victory over Portsmouth

    Aug 27, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT

    Harry Kane, Geoff Cameron AP

    Lazio is most interested in the American’s services but the recent injury casts doubt on the likelihood of a transfer.

  5. League Cup Roundup: QPR and Aston Villa crash out

    Aug 27, 2014, 7:55 PM EDT

    Romain Vincelot celebrates his goal that knocked out Villa Getty Images

    QPR and Aston Villa followed Manchester United’s lead in crashing out of the League Cup to clubs from the Football League.

  6. Champions League Roundup: Ludogorets defender saves penalty to put Bulgarians through

    Aug 27, 2014, 7:02 PM EDT

    Cosmin Moti, the hero for Ludogorets Cosmin Moti, the hero for Ludogorets

    Ludogorets defender Cosmin Moti took the gloves and saved two penalties to help his side advance to the Champions League group stage.

  7. Transfer needs – Everton, Hull, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester City

    Aug 27, 2014, 6:07 PM EDT

    Falcao Getty Images

    Let’s take a look at five more clubs and how they will wheel and deal before the window slams shut.

  8. Olivier Giroud undergoes ankle surgery, out 3-4 months for Arsenal

    Aug 27, 2014, 5:43 PM EDT

    Olivier Giroud scored the only goal in what was often a rather drab affair at the Emirates. Getty Images

    The loss of Giroud skyrockets the possibility of Wenger soon moving to sign another pure striker.

  9. Report: Xabi Alonso reaches agreement with Bayern Munich

    Aug 27, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    arjen_robben_xabi_alonso Getty Images

    Reports across Europe claim that Xabi Alonso has reached an agreement with Bayern Munich.

  10. Xabi Alonso retires from Spanish National Team

    Aug 27, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT

    Spain v France - UEFA EURO 2012 Quarter Final Getty Images

    “The hardest thing is knowing when to say goodbye,” Xabi Alonso said.

  11. VIDEO: Bayern Munich’s Pep Guardiola loses it, shoves Thomas Muller

    Aug 27, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT

    Guardiola

    Guardiola gives Muller a piece of his mind during Bayern’s open practice session.

  12. Tottenham Hotspur sign Argentine international Federico Fazio

    Aug 27, 2014, 1:47 PM EDT

    Press Conference - UEFA Super Cup for UEFA Getty Images

    Fazio heads to White Hart Lane on four-year deal from Sevilla.

  13. UEFA postpone Israel’s Euro 2016 qualifier vs. Belgium due to safety fears

    Aug 27, 2014, 1:14 PM EDT

    Mideast Israel Palestinians AP

    As conflict continues between Israel, Hamas, UEFA has stepped in to postpone qualifier.

  14. PHOTO: British papers rip into Manchester United after League Cup humiliation

    Aug 27, 2014, 12:32 PM EDT

    MK Dons v Manchester United - Capital One Cup Second Round Getty Images

    Following United’s embarrassing 4-0 defeat to a third-tier team, the UK media have not been kind.

  15. $410 million Las Vegas soccer stadium deal closer; next stop, Major League Soccer…

    Aug 27, 2014, 12:01 PM EDT

    Las Vegas

    Soccer in Sin City… why not? Stadium deal gets over next hurdle, hinges on MLS team heading to Nevada.

  16. Report: Arsenal bid $82 million for Edinson Cavani. Remy, Falcao, Welbeck linked

    Aug 27, 2014, 9:42 AM EDT

    Cavani AP

    After Oliver Giroud’s bad injury, will Arsenal spend big to bring in Cavani?

  17. VOTE: Where will Manchester United finish in the Premier League this season?

    Aug 27, 2014, 9:12 AM EDT

    louis_van_gaal AP

    Have your say on where van Gaal’s side will finish this campaign.

Featured video

Balotelli will boost Suarez-less Liverpool