Bafana draw in Morocco


Tokelo Rantie had silenced the home crowd with an early goal, but Issam El Adoua’s header early in the second half meant there was to be no victory for Bafana Bafana.

Gordon Igesund handed a debut to Bidvest Wits captain Sibusiso Vilakazi, while there was also a long overdue return for Daylon Claasen.

In front of a very vocal home crowd, Bafana showed they would not be overawed as they got off to a great start, with first Claasen and then Rantie firing shots in at goal.

Morocco soon found their feet and it took a great save from Itumeleng Khune to deny Youssef El Arabi from scoring from a header from 18 yards out.

But any hopes the hosts had of creating some dominance went out the window in the ninth minute when Rantie scored the first ever goal at the Agadir Stadium. A quick counter-attack saw Claasen - who had won the ball in midfield - feed the Bournemouth striker, who showed great composure to finish past Amsif.

The crowd immediately got on their players’ backs and the pressure showed as the South Africans grabbed a foothold.

Rantie’s running and movement was causing all sorts of havoc and he again got in behind the defence, but his pass to the onrushing Lerato Chabangu was intercepted at the vital moment.

Khune was then called upon to deny the hosts, this time with a sharp save after a free-kick had found captain Mehdi Benatia unmarked in the area.

However, Bafana kept pressing for a second goal with first Chabangu’s free-kick behind saved, before Rantie just failed to get on the end of Bernard Parker’s cross.

Morocco came close again just past the half-hour mark when Omar El Kaddouri’s mazy run ended with his shot hitting the side-netting, while Khune was at full stretch again soon after to keep out a rasping drive from Benatia.

Bafana came ever so close to adding a second just before the break when an excellent build-up saw Parker playing in Vilakazi, but his low shot was brilliantly saved by the goalkeeper.

Whatever was said in the home dressing-room at halftime seemed to have done the trick as the Moroccans came out firing in the second half.

Bafana had hardly had a touch of the ball when the equaliser came on 49 minutes. Predictably, it came via a header as El Adoua was left unmarked to head home Younes Belhanda’s free-kick, though the ‘foul’ which led to the set-piece was soft at best.

The hosts dominated possession after that, but without ever creating any clear-cut chances. Substitute Abel Taarabt proved a handful and displayed some good skill to leave Dean Furman for dead, but his shot was blocked.

Debutant Kgosi Ntlhe got away with a late error in the box, while another newcomer, Ayanda Patosi, fired a speculative shot wide late on and Parker’s powerful run and shot resulted in nothing but a corner, but in the end Bafana would have been happy to escape the new Agadir Stadium with a draw – and their unbeaten record against Morocco intact.

Bafana starting XI: Khune, Ngcongca, Khumalo, Xulu, Masilela (Ntlhe 67th), Claasen, Furman, Vilakazi (Zungu 46th), Chabangu (Patosi 59), Parker (Letsholonyane 83rd), Rantie (Erasmus 70th)

Morocco starting XI: Amsif, Bergdich, Benatia, El Adoua, Noussair, Feddal, Obbadi, El Kaddouri, Barrada, Belhanda, El Arabi