SA claim heroic draw against Brazil
Posted: 4 August 2016 Time: 21:00
A 10-man South Africa Under-23 team produced a heroic performance in the second half to secure a 0-0 draw with Brazil in their first match of the Men's Olympic Tournament at a packed Mane Garrincha Stadium.
South Africa started the game confidently and showed no signs of being intimidated by a hostile and vocal crowd, instead passing the ball around and bossing the opening 20 minutes.
Owen da Gama's side actually created more chances and had the better opportunities to score in the first 45 minutes, starting in the third minute when Keagan Dolly picked up possession, drove forward and slipped Lebo Mothiba in behind, only for Brazil goalkeeper Weverton to come out and save with his feet.
However, Brazil eventually got going and started to look dangerous in attack, but Itumeleng Khune was on hand to save from Neymar on two big occasions in the first half, and he would eventually produce a man-of-the-match performance.
Everything was going according to plan as the likes of Dolly, Gift Motupa and Menzi Masuku swaggered going forward, except for the snatching of a goal. Mothiba had a great chance from Dolly's inswinging corner-kick but failed to make proper contact unmarked at the near post.
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Then the game changed in the 59th minute. Mothobi Mvala, who had been having an impressive game in the heart of midfield up until a professional foul on Neymar in the 55th minute that earned him a booking, then mistimed a challenge four minutes later and was dismissed for a second yellow card.
Down to 10 men, South Africa were now up against it as wave after wave of yellow attackers came at the defensive line. Brazil's onslaught eventually produced a moment where Gabriel Jesus was faced with an open goal at the far post, but somehow turned his shot against the upright in a miraculous escape for South Africa.
But, led by Khune who was simply brilliant on the night making save after save, claiming crosses and coming out to intercept, the likes of Abbubaker Mobara, Deloin Mekoa, Erick Mathoho and Rivaldo Coetzee all played their part to keep the young Selecao at bay by putting their bodies on the line.
Mobara was particularly impressive as he shackled Neymar all night, and the boos that rang around the ground at the final whistle must have been music to the ears of the team formerly known as AmaGlug-glug, who secured a heroic result against the odds.
The point is good for South Africa after Denmark and Iraq also played to a goalless draw in the Group A opener earlier in the day.
Brazil: Weverton, Zeca, Marquinhos, Caio, D Santos (William 84'), T Maia, R Augusto (Rafinha 67'), F Anderson (L Vieira 60'), Neymar (c), Gabigol, Gabriel Jesus
South Africa: Khune, Mekoa, Mobara, Coetzee, Mathoho, Mvala (sent off 59'), Motupa, Dolly (c), Modiba (P Ntshangase 70'), Masuku (Morris 58'), Mothiba