JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Tiny Cape Verde proved African Nations Cup spoilers as they held hosts South Africa to a goalless draw in the tournament’s opening game at Soccer City in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The smallest country in the tournament were more than a match for a nervous home outfit who looked overwhelmed by the occasion.
Cape Verde had the best chance of the match when a defence-splitting pass from midfielder Babanco set up Platini, only for the Portugal-based forward to screw the ball wide from in front of the goal after 13 minutes.
The game improved marginally after halftime as play became more stretched, but neither goalkeeper was seriously tested until South Africa’s Itumeleng Khune was forced to scramble a diving Heldon header away for a corner after 70 minutes.
South Africa dominated possession but their decision making on a cold and rainy day was poor and they struggled to create chances to the disappointment of a crowd short of the sell-out promised by organisers.
Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund had labelled his squad potential tournament winners last month but they offered little evidence to back up that boast in a below-average performance.
Three attacking changes after a poor-quality first half injected a little life into the home team’s forward forays but the islanders kept them at bay.
It was the continuation of a dream run for the country with a population of just over 500,000, who eliminated Cameroon in a fairytale qualifying campaign.
Morocco play Angola in the second match of the tournament later on Saturday.
(Editing by Toby Davis)
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