SOUTH AFRICA 0-0 ANGOLA
The opening match of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations saw South Africa and Cape Verde play to a goalless draw at the National Stadium in Soweto.
Host team Bafana Bafana will be bitterly disappointed at the result, as they were looking for a fast start to the tournament, while the debutants will be pleased at having claimed a point from their first outing in the AFCON.
The first half was a stop-start affair, with neither side really able to settle down and play the kind of football they would have been planning on.
South Africa had an early half-chance when Siphiwe Tshabalala’s free kick found the head of Bernard Parker, but his effort was directed well wide of the target.
Cape Verde created the first clear scoring chance and the best opportunity of the first half. On 15 minutes Babanco played a great ball to pick out Platini, who had only goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune to beat, but he dragged his effort wide of the target.
Platini proved to be a thorn in the side of Bafana Bafana’s defence throughout the first half, with his clever movement providing a real headache for Bongani Khumalo and Siyabonga Sangweni, while winger Ryan Mendes was also allowed freedom to move among the front line.
In contrast, the home side’s strikers Bernard Parker and Lehlohonolo Majoro posed little threat, as they were unable to combine effectively due to a lack of quality service from their midfielders, who had a tough time in trying to gain ascendancy over their opponents.
That Bafana needed more creativity in midfield was clear, and coach Gordon Igesund introduced both Lerato Chabangu and Thulani Serero before the hour mark, but neither really provided the cutting edge needed to prise open Cape Verde’s defence.
The islanders who were making their first appearance in the finals spent most of the second half on the back foot, though they almost broke the deadlock against the run of play on 73 minutes when a diving header from Heldon had Itumeleng Khune scrambling across his goal line to tip the ball away.
In the end the home side simply lacked the necessary quality and composure in the final third to break down their opponent’s defence, with their only half-chance arriving in injury time when captain Bongani Khumalo put a header over the top from a corner kick.
MOROCCO 0-0 ANGOLA
Angola and Morocco failed to produce a goal as they played to a 0-0 draw in their 2013 Africa Cup of Nations opener on Saturday.
It was the second successive 0-0 draw at Soccer City after South Africa and Cape Verde had also played to a stalemate earlier in the evening, leaving the competition still awaiting its first goal.
After Angola had weathered an early storm, they gradually took control of the game and by the second half were the dominant force.
They had a number of late chances to win it, but poor finishing let them down and could come back to haunt them later in the competition.
Angolan defender Mingo Bille forced a decent save out of Morocco’s Nadir Lamyaghri, who had to grab the ball at the second attempt.
From then on in it was all the north Africans in the opening period, Oussama Assaidi having perhaps their best chances as he jinxed through the box, but fired over from an acute angle.
Winger Nordin Amrabat was a constant threat with his trickery and pace on the ball, while Mounir El Hamdaoui also forced a fine finger-tip save from Angolan keeper Lama.
But the Moroccans appeared to battle in the second period, perhaps the altitude affecting their game as they battled to find their passing range.
That gave Angola a sniff and an excellent opportunity to find a winner, especially late in the game.
They should have been ahead when Lamyaghri drops a routine cross, but substitute Guilherme Afonso could only toe-poke the ball agonisingly wide of goal.
Manucho then had two chances for his side, the first he put wide of goal when the ball broke lose to him 18-yards out. He should have hit the target at least.
The second was an even simpler opportunity as Mateus did brilliantly to get his cross in from the right, but with Manucho and Afonso going for the same ball, it was the former who again failed to hit the target, this time from inside the six-yard box.
Mateus had a rasping shot of his own in the dying minutes, but it was too close to Lamyaghri and the keeper was able to save.
(Additional reporting from mtnfootball.com)