- Bernard PARKER (21', 52')
Referee Benito ARCHUNDIA (MEX)
Prodigal Parker makes amends
Football is a funny old game. On Sunday evening, South Africa's Bernard Parker will have been haunted by replays of his late intervention in the 0-0 draw against Iraq, when he unwittingly got in the way of team-mate Kagisho Dikgacoi's goal-bound header. But if 24 hours is a long time in football, then 72 hours must have seemed like a lifetime to the Crvena Zvezda forward. However, he gained redemption in Rustenburg by scoring twice in the hosts' 2-0 win over New Zealand in Group A of this year's FIFA Confederations Cup.
Both goals began with the busy midfield prompting of Everton's Steven Pienaar, who played it out wide to left-back Tsepo Masilela before Parker finished off the move. The opener came in the 21st minute, when New Zealand keeper Glen Moss could only guide his scuffed left-footed shot into the net. If there was a touch of fortune about the first, then there was a huge slice of luck for the second, as Masilela's cross-shot was diverted into the net by Parker's midriff six minutes after the interval.
Despite having the lion's share of the ball and the better chances in the 40 minutes that followed, they could not turn their domination into goals - something they may rue in their quest for a semi-final spot. Iraq's narrow loss to Spain earlier in the day means that Joel Santana's side must keep it tight against the European champions and hope that the All Whites do the same against the west Asians on Saturday.
Yet, if South Africa fail to make it on goal difference, they may only have themselves to blame. Parker and strike partner Thembinkosi Fanteni were particularly guilty of straying into offside positions when the hosts were in the ascendancy. Then, for the second time in as many matches, substitute Katlego Mashego failed to hit the back of the net with just the goalkeeper to beat with seven minutes remaining. To make matters worse, he repeated the mistake two minutes from time.
It was a game of few highlights for New Zealand, who remain pointless and goalless after their two matches in the competition. Despite an energetic display, particularly in the middle of the park, their front pairing Chris Killen and Shane Smeltz were starved of any real service, and only one shot on goal during the entire 90 minutes tells its own tale. Ricki Herbert's men, however, do have another opportunity to make amends in Johannesburg.
It happened with Parker, and could do once more.