Bafana earn vital point

‘The Pharaohs’ camped inside Bafana’s half from the first minute, but at the interval Bafana had held on to end the half goalless.

Early on, Egypt’s Ahmed Elmohamady was brought down by Tsepo Masilela down the right flank and Ahmed Fathy’s free-kick was cleared by the Bafana defence.

Bafana didn’t sit back though, taking the fight to the Egyptians.

Katlego Mphela’s free-kick in the 14th minute was rather a tame effort, which Essam El-Hadary easily collected.

After the nerves had settled, Siphiwe Tshabalala was booked in the 22nd minute for a deliberate handball.

The Kaizer Chiefs midfielder, captain on the night, protested the decision, but Tunisian referee Slim Jedidi was having none of it.

But this did little to dampen Bafana’s spirit as they went on the offensive. Tshabalala whipped in a corner to find Siyabonga Sangweni at the far post in the 28th minute, but El-Hadary made a fine save at his near post.

The best chance of the half fell kindly to Mphela in the 36th minute, but ‘Killer’ didn’t live up to his nickname when he fluffed the opportunity.

It was a copycat of his last-gasp goal against Egypt on March 26 against the same Egypt team at the Coca Cola Park stadium, but Mphela this time shot straight into the legs of El-Hadary.

Bafana could have easily been ahead.

On the stroke of half-time, Itumeleng Khune produced a brilliant save, after Elmohamady picked up the ball unmarked in the box in the 45th minute and then shot with his right, but Khune pulled off a fantastic save.

The score at the interval was goalless.

The Pharaohs came out the better side in the second half, but Bafana’s resolute defence led by Khune was simply a brick wall.

In the 59th minute, Ahmed Fathy broke through into the box to pounce on a great defence-splitting pass and had time and space to take aim at Khune's goal, but the latter was once again at his best, diving to push the ball away for a corner.

Mphela had a great chance of his own just after the hour mark, but faltered with the goalkeeper to beat, as he rounded El-Hadary but he was dispossessed by Mahmoud Fathalla.

With eight minutes of regulation time left, El-Hadary, a hero in Egypt, was on the receiving end of verbal abuse from the fans after he rushed out of his box for a loose ball, headed it away, but Andile Jali beat him to the next ball.

Jali then exchanged a couple of passes with Tshabalala, who ultimately took a shot at Egypt's open net, but it went over the crossbar.

In the dying seconds substitute Tlou Segolela failed to beat El-Hadary in a one-on-one situation.

Nonetheless, Bafana have done enough to earn a vital point away from home.

South Africa: Itumeleng Khune – Anele Ngcongca, Tsepo Masilela, Siyabonga Sangweni, Morgan Gould – Kagisho Dikgacoi, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Andile Jali, Siphiwe Tshabalala (Bevan Fransman 90th) – Katlego Mphela (Davide Somma 86th), Bernard Parker (Tlou Segolela 75th)

Egypt: Essam El-Hadary - Ahmed Fathy, Sayed Moawad, Mahmoud Fathalla (Amr Sulaya 79th), Wael Gomma - Hossam Ghali, Abdel El-Zaher, Ahmed Elmohamady, Mahmoud Shikabala (Ahmed Ali Kamel 65th)- Mohamed Zidan (Mohamed Nagy 58th), Hosni Abd Rabou

Referee: Slim Jedidi (Tunisia) Cautions: Tshabalala, Parker, Khune, Sangweni