Bafana fight back for draw

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After Siyabonga Nkosi had given South Africa the lead, goals from Mile Sterjovski and Joshua Kennedy put the Australians ahead at halftime.

Joel Santana’s side rallied in the second period, however, and Teko Modise leveled matters with a high-quality goal.

Central defence will remain a concern for the technical team and young goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune had his worst performance in a Bafana shirt by far, but the side at least showed character to fight back after halftime.

There were returns to the national fold for midfielder Nkosi and leftback Bradley Carnell, both of who have been in the international wilderness for almost 12 months, as well as striker Benni McCarthy.

Australia made the early running, resulting in a yellow card for Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena as he gave away a free-kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the area which came to naught.

But it was Bafana who opened the score on 21 minutes with a wonderful move. Kagiso Dikgacoi played the ball in to McCarthy on the edge of the penalty area and his deft back-heel found the onrushing Nkosi, who rifled the ball past Mark Schwarzer in the Socceroos goal.

But the lead lasted just four minutes as Sterjovski collected a long-floated pass and lobbed the ball over Khune, who had rushed out to the edge of his area when he perhaps should have stayed on his goal-line to see how the play developed.

Australia almost netted a second when Kennedy’s header flashed wide after Khune again came but failed to collect from the cross.

Sterjovski had the ball in the back of the net on 36 minutes, but the goal was harshly ruled offside and Khune’s bad night got worse when Australia finally netted their second.

Again he came off his line for the free-kick, again he failed to collect and this time Kennedy made him pay by heading home.

One thing was clear for Bafana, the central defensive partnership of Mokoena and Nasief Morris, which had looked brittle at the Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana earlier this year, was still a problem area for the side.

Nkosi provided an inch-perfect cross for McCarthy four minutes before the break, but the Blackburn Rovers striker put his header wide when he might have done better with the chance.

Neat work from Bryce Moon forced a corner five minutes after halftime, but from the resultant set-piece, McCarthy made good contact with the ball with his head, but couldn’t keep his effort down.

Macbeth Sibaya then unleashed a thunderous drive from 30-yards that narrowly missed the goal, but Bafana were then level on 58 minutes with another exceptional goal.

McCarthy’s excellent work on the by-line resulted in another back-heel into the path of Moon, who cut the ball back perfectly for Modise and the Orlando Pirates star lashed the ball into the roof of the net from 16-yards.

The game ebbed from end-to-end and Morris was forced to clear off the line from substitute Bruce Djite with Khune again beaten.

But neither side were able to find a winner and perhaps a draw was a fair result, given the dominance each exerted in the two halves.

South Africa: Itumeleng Khune – Bryce Moon, Aaron Mokoena, Nasief Morris, Bradley Carnell – Teko Modise, Kagiso Dikgacoi (Lance Davids 78th), Macbeth Sibaya, Siyabonga Nkosi (Sibusiso Zuma 65th), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Surprise Moriri 57th) – Benedict McCarthy (Lefa Tsutsulupa 73rd)

Yellow cards: Mokoena, McCarthy

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