Bafana play to goalless draw against Ghana in Nations Cup dress rehearsal
Bafana Bafana played to a 0-0 draw in their friendly international behind closed doors against Ghana at the Dubai Police Academy on Saturday.
Bafana coach Stuart Baxter named two separate starting line-ups in either half for the warm-up match for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations against a strong Ghana.
In what will serve as an effective dress rehearsal for conditions in Egypt in the Saharan desert mid-summer the match was played in oppressive heat despite the 5.30pm Dubai time (3.30pm in SA) kickoff.
The XI for the opening half was close to what one might expect as a starting line-up for Bafana's Nations Cup Group D opener against Ivory Coast at the 30,000-seater Al Salam Stadium in Cairo on Monday, June 24, bar a few players.
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Darren Keet started in goal, the defence consisted of Thamsanqa Mkhize, captain Thulani Hlatshwayo, Buhle Mkhwanazi and Sifiso Hlanti.
Dean Furman and Kamohelo Mokotjo were in central midfield, behind a frontline of Thulani Serero, Percy Tau, Lebogang Mothiba and Thembinkosi Lorch.
The second-half XI consisted more of fringe players.
Ghana fielded a strong line-up, including Maritzburg Uniyed's Richard Ofori in goal, Newcastle United's Christian Atsu and Andre and Jordan Ayew.
The Black Stars enjoyed the early attacking opportunities in scorching heat that saw the game stopped for a water break on the half-hour.
South Africa ended the half the stronger team, as Serero was brought down on the edge of the area just before the break and Tau struck the free-kick just off target.
Bafana's second-half "second-stringers" seemed to have a point to prove as Lars Veldwijk forced two saves and Lebohang Maboe came close, while Ronwen Williams made a world-class save soon after his introduction just after the hour.
Bafana travelled on Monday to Dubai from the first leg of their pre-Afcon training camp in Johannesburg.
They meet Angola at their training venue in Cairo – the Aero Sports Club – in a second and final warm-up friendly on Wednesday at 5.30pm SA and Egypt time.
After their opener against Cote d'Ivoire, South Africa meet Namibia on Friday, June 28 and Morocco on Monday, July 1. All Bafana's group matches are at Al Salam Stadium.
Ivory Coast lost 1-0 to Uganda in their Afcon friendly warm-up match played in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
South Africa first half: Darren Keet, Thamsanqa Mkhize, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Buhle Mkwhanazi, Sfiso Hlanti, Dean Furman, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Thulani Serero, Thembinkosi Lorch, Percy Tau, Lebo Mothiba
South Africa second half: Darren Keet, Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Innocent Maela, Daniel Cardoso, Hlompho Kekana, Tiyani Mabunda, Bongani Zungu, Sbusiso Vilakazi, Themba Zwane, Lebo Maboe, Lars Veldwijk
Ghana starting XI: Richard Ofori, Andy Yiadom, Lumor Agbeyenu, John Boye, Kassim Nuhu, Kwadwo Asamoah, Thomas Partey, Christian Atsu, Thomas Agyepong, Andre Ayew, Jordan Ayew