South Africa has advanced to the Semi Finals of the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup despite suffering a 2-0 defeat against European Champions Spain at the Bloemfontein Stadium on Saturday evening!
Bafana needed at least a draw against the number 1 ranked team in the World to secure their passage to the semi-finals but on the night the Spanish were just a class above their host. The defeat meant that Bafana had to hope that the tournament's whipping boys, New Zealand could somehow managed to avoid defeat against Iraq in the other match in Group A.
New Zealand did indeed manage to avoid defeat, as they held the Asian champions to a goall less draw at Ellis Park which booked Bafana's place in the semi finals.
I can't tell you how overjoyed I am at the moment because South African football has been craving for a result of this magnitude since our African Cup of Nations win over Tunisia in 1996. Well done Boys, you've made me very proud tonight, but I know I can't speak for everybody else as I'm sure there’s bound to be lot's of complaining and moaning after this result. But I think we need to celebrate this achievement because we have deserved it after our performances in the Tournament. There's still lot that needs to be improved on ahead of our next match, which is likely to be against Group B leaders Brazil.
As for the actual game, Santana opted for his uber-defensive line-up again, recalling Benson Mhlongo in place of striker Terror Fanteni but in fairness to Santana, Bafana never really sat back and we definitely gave as good as we got in an evenly contested first half which ended 0-0.
The second half also got off to a good start , until Aaron Mokoena brought down Cesc Fabregas inside the area in the 50th minute and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. David Villa stepped up but birthday boy Itumeleng Khune pulled off a sublime double save to deny Villa.
The Valencia striker would not be denied though as he opened the scoring two minutes later with a brilliant finish as he beat Khune with a low shot after controlling a cross with his chest. Spain then withdrew Villa and Torres with the game pretty much wrapped up as Bafana looked deflated after conceding. We tried to get back into the match but the result was put beyond doubt when substitute Llorente scored from close range in the 72nd minute after the defence was caught napping from a Spanish free-kick.
That was pretty much game, set and match as all eyes crossed over to Johannesburg where Iraq was taking on New Zealand. Luckily for Bafana the match ended 0-0 which means that Bafana move into the semi-finals alongside Spain.
South Africa's success in this tournament comes as somewhat of a shock considering the bad press that the coach and the team had received prior to it kicking off on the 14th, but this just goes to show that with 50 000 supporters cheering you on anything is possible!
Well done Boys, you've made us proud