Bafana Bafana were brought back to earth with a huge bump when a fired up Chile ended their five match winning streak by gunning down the South African national team 2-0 in a fast flowing friendly at a packed Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Wednesday night.
Chile gave Bafana head coach Joel Santana and his players a rude awakening and showed that Santana has a lot of hard work ahead in the next four months as he prepares Bafana to compete against Spain, New Zealand and Iraq in the Confederations Cup which kicks off in June.
Santana said before the game that Chile would be a good test for his charges. They were by far the best side that Bafana has played since Bafana were beaten 1-0 by Nigeria to end Bafana’s African Nations Cup dream last September.
It is easy playing against second and third rate teams from Ghana, Malawi and Zambia but Bafana failed this test horribly against a top quality side that is ranked 30th and gave Bafana a soccer lesson.
Bafana were given a run around for most of the first 45 minutes.
Apart from a few clever moves from midfielder Teko Modise, the home side were on the back foot for most of the half.
But it took until injury time of the opening half for Chile to score when South African born left wing Mark Gonzalez whipped in a great cross which was half cleared and landed at the foot of Jorge Valdivia who sent in a stunning rocket that gave ‘keeper Calvin Marlin no chance.
Chile used both wings Gonzalez and Alexis Sanchez to great effect.
Marlin was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers. Chile impressed by their attacking approach and the way they were able to switch play and confuse the home side defence.
Chile started off aggressively and made their intentions clear from the kick-off when Turkish based Rodrigo Tello’s shot was blocked after five minutes.
Bafana won a free kick 30 metres out and Modise effort went straight to keeper Claudio Bravo in the 13th minute. Chile hit back on the counter attack and the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Carlos Vidal was wide after collecting another quality cross form the Real Betis star Gonzalez a minute later.
Vidal tried to lob Marlin four minutes later but his chip shot floated past the far post.
Then hard working right back Siboniso Gaxa did well to block a goal bound Gonzalez shot on 20 minutes.
Marlin did well to pull off a great save off Vidal in the 23rd minute as Chile kept pressing forward.
Moroka Swallows Lefa Tsutsulupa ran his heart out in the first half and came closest when his 27th minute screamer flew over the crossbar. The Moroka Swallows captain who worked his socks off was replaced at the start of the second half by Lance Davids.
Valdivia fluffed an easy chance from close range when he had the goal at his mercy in the 31st minute. But the pressure paid off when Chile were rewarded with a goal from Valdivia in injury time.
Bafana came out more positive in the second half and Santana wisely changed out of form Siyabonga Nkosi. The Israel based midfielder had a disappointing game and was replaced by striker Bernard Parker at the start of the second half.
Parker, now playing in Serbia for Red Star Belgrade made an immediate impact when he forced Bravo to make a tremendous save from his shot from an acute angle in the 54th minute and from the rebound Benni McCarthy hit the post.
Two minutes earlier Modise had fired a bullet past the Chile post.
But Chile substitute Matias Fernandez thudded a shot off the crossbar in the 64th minute before Sanchez waltzed around the sleepy Bafana defence and fired past Marlin into the far corner in the 67th minute to end the contest.
Chile took their foot off the gas as Bafana huffed and puffed their way to the end of the 90 minutes to disappoint their fans in the capacity crowd.