South Africa and Angola played out to a thrilling goalless draw in an international friendly match played in the Eastern Cape on Tuesday night.
It was a case of missed chances on the side of Bafana Bafana at the end of 90 minutes, but Owen Da Gama will have an excuse for not scoring against Palancas Negras.
He made wholesale changes to the side that beat Guinea-Bissau 3-1 in Durban last weekend, with the likes of Phakamani Mahlambi and Luther Singh making their senior national team debuts.
Although a lot was expected from the two young players, they never really imposed themselves on the day, and were often bullied by the Angolans in the final third.
Bafana Bafana however, can draw positives from the result – they are now unbeaten in 17 consecutive matches in all competitions, with their last defeat coming in October 2015 against the same opponents.
Goalscoring chances were few and far between in the opening 45 minutes, but Percy Tau came close on two occasions, only for his second attempt to be cleared as it was heading for goals midway through the first half.
The only highlight of the first half came in the 30th minute when referee Joshua ‘Sprinter’ Bondo accidentally headbutted Angolan player Paulo Natael.
This was after the Botswana referee awarded a free-kick to the South Africans. Natael was standing in Bondo’s way, and may have himself to blame, especially as the referee didn’t change his mind about awarded the free-kick and booking him.
The Angolans, despite bulldozing the South Africans and dictating the pace of the game, hardly threatened Darren Keet in goal.
Da Gama made changes at the start of the second half, introducing Keagan Dolly and Themba Zwane to try and wrestle the Angolans in midfield, but the move didn’t change the complexion of the game as Palancas Negras continued to dominate proceedings.
But that was without troubling Bafana goalkeeper Keet, who was making his return to the starting line-up after two years on the sidelines.
The only time Angola tested Keet was in the 53rd minute when striker Papel pulled the trigger from outside the box, but the Bidvest Wits keeper was up to the challenge as he dived to his left to parry the ball around the post.
Even the introduction of Kermit Erasmus couldn’t help Bafana, and despite their improved performance in the second half, signs are still there that scoring goals remains their biggest problems to date.
Their passing game was good, but they need someone prolific to always be in the box to finish the chances.
Da Gama will not be too worried about that, but whoever comes in as new head coach of Bafana will have to come up with solutions if Bafana are to beat the best teams in the world in the near future.