RUSTENBURG, South Africa, June 3 – Katlego Mphelascored a late equaliser to save South Africa from anembarrassing World Cup qualifier defeat at home to Ethiopia onSunday.
Mphela cleverly curled a shot wide of the opposinggoalkeeper in the 77th minute to level the score at 1-1 butthere will be questions about the future of coach PitsoMosimane, who had stated before the match only a win would do.
“We were surprised by them,” stated South African captainSteven Pienaar of opponents 71 places below them in the FIFArankings. “They came with nothing to lose.”
Ethiopia, who in four decades of World Cup qualifying hadonly won once away, took the lead just before the half-hour markwith a powerful shot from Said Saladin.
His goal delighted several thousand expatriate Ethiopianfans, whose cheering dominated a near-empty stadium atRustenburg.
The decline in South Africa’s fortunes since hosting the2010 World Cup, including missing out on qualifying for the 2012African Nations Cup finals because they misread the rules, meantonly around 5,000 spectators turned up in contrast to thefestivities of two years ago.
South Africa failed to qualify for the Nations Cup afterlosing out in a three-way tie at the top of their group becausethey thought goal difference was the deciding factor when, infact, it was head-to-head record. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing By Alison Wildey)
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