Agudelo spoils the party: SA 0, USA 1

By Peter Alegi | November 18th, 2010 2 Comments

Agudelo scores the winner (Photo by Sophie Alegi)

Juan Agudelo — six days shy of his 18th birthday — scored the only goal of the game in the 84th minute and spoiled a massive party in Cape Town. 51,000 of us were on hand at Green Point stadium for this glossy friendly on a warm and breezy late spring evening.

As we walked towards the ground, pubs were full of Bafana fans wearing the yellow national team shirt.

World Cup atmosphere at Green Point (Photo by Peter Alegi)

A few Americans chanted their support for the stars-and-stripes and confidently predicted a victory.  The World Cup atmosphere was back (minus the FIFA branding).

Who said soccer ain't American? (Photo by Peter Alegi)

Inside the arena a welcoming vibe enveloped us. The sweet smell of football. The energy of a racially mixed and patriotic crowd. President Zuma meets the teams on the pitch. All for a good cause: the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. Fans belt out South Africa’s multilingual national anthem in unison: a rare, precious moment of communitas, football’s unique contribution to a fractured society searching for a shared national identity.

Unfortunately, the football on the night was crap. Let’s call a spade a spade. A strangely lethargic Bafana Bafana side knocked the ball sideways and backwards, while the second-string Americans kept their shape and every once in a while hoofed the ball forward hoping for a break. Still, the two best chances fell to the hosts who, characteristically, squandered them. 0-0 at the half. Perhaps the one silver lining for SA was Leeds striker Davide Somma’s positive debut.

Play resumed at the same monotone pace, passes going astray, nobody really able to turn defenders or take a decent shot at goal, and a series of edgy tackles that did little to improve the flow of the game. A steady stream of substitutions made matters worse. The Mexican wave takes off, a universal symbol of bored fans.

Photo by Peter Alegi

The concocted drama of penalties beckoned until the Colombian-born Agudelo, left wide open in the box, capitalized on an inviting assist by Mikkel Diskerud, a former Norwegian under-19 international whose mother is American. Bafana pressed for the equalizer, but it was too little too late.

As the home crowd filed out quietly, a group of vociferous American college students wrapped in red-white-and-blue began their celebrations. I couldn’t help but think back to the last time South Africa played in Cape Town: a 3-1 loss to Zambia in September 2007. Is the Mother City cursed?



Thabo Dladla

November 19th, 2010 | 1:56 am    

The scary thing about this result is not just about loosing the match but having too many players on the wrong side of twenty five. This is not just Pitso’s problem. It is a national problem. We need to work very hard in carrecting our structures. US brought their second team and the fact that a seventeen year old scored should shake us a bit. Presently, there is no quality work being done at the levels that really matter in football i.e. kids under-12. Those that get through to PSL or Bafana Bafana, achieve this mainly accidentaly.

We are still waiting for new SAFA regime to implement the development strategies promised. National associations main business is to ensure that masses are involved in the game. I am afraid Pitso will soon be a victim if real problems are not addressed. If we could not cope with competition against class teams in JUNE with Perreira at the help, three months of preparation, what hope do we have for 2014 when most of the present players would have retired from international football or will we drag them from old age homes for 2014 World Cup. Come on South Africans.Stop being lazy. Give every child an opportunity to play football, then the best will come to the top.

Kevin Johnston

November 19th, 2010 | 2:13 pm    

Thanks Peter, had a friend here who watched the game using some strange cable arrangement. As you said, it seemed like a yawner.

Thought I’d add a bit about of friend of mine now racing in the Tour Of Rwanda. John’s the first America to do this stage race, and he’s doing very well. This is him, number 74.

I once posted to Velonews that I could win the tour with 250K and a couple of years to train Kenyan riders. They are doing well in the ToR. Hoping to see more African neo-pros in the peleton, and perhaps one day competing for the big stage races.

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