Poles prosper in South Africa friendly

Poland beat South Africa 1-0 in a friendly international on Friday, with a debut goal from substitute Marcin Komorowski.

In only his seventh cap, the 28-year-old defender from Russian club Terek Grozny seized his chance in the 82nd minute, beating South African keeper Itumeleng Khune in a goalmouth scramble. 

Despite the winning scoreline on a chilly night in Warsaw's Kazimierz Gorski Stadium, neither side showed the skill or verve needed to really warm fans' hearts. With Poland displaying the lack of finesse that has dashed fans' hopes in the past, and Bafana Bafana also coming away empty-handed, their respective staffs know they have their work cut out with tougher tests on the horizon.

Poland manager Waldemar Fornalik, who took over following their poor showing as co-hosts of UEFA EURO 2012 in June, opted to blood newcomers and keep several big names on the bench ahead of Tuesday's crunch 2014 FIFA World Cup™ qualifier against England in the same stadium.

New South Africa manager Gordon Igesund's men, meanwhile, are in Kenya on Tuesday for the latest warm-up for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations. As hosts of the 19 January- 10 February showcase, their automatic berth means they only have friendlies to get ready, just like the Poles at EURO 2012. South Africa will be hoping that is not a bad omen - Poland crashed out of the tournament in the group stage.

The hosts had an early scare on Friday when goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton - a substitute-turned-stalwart who was Poland's penalty-saving hero at EURO 2012 - fumbled a winding free-kick from Lerato Chabangu seven minutes into the match. But the PSV Eindhoven stopper kept his cool and smothered the ball.

After  a flurry of free-kicks and corners failed to bear fruit for the Poles, Artur Sobiech failed to latch on to a pass that could have opened the scoring in the 17th minute. Nine minutes later, the Hannover 96 striker was set up by Adrian Mierzejewski, only to be beaten by Khune, and was foiled again seven minutes from half-time.

Tyton had his work cut out again in the second half, saving early back-to-back free-kicks from Ricardo Nunes.

Khune again faced down Sobiech in the 56th minute, as Poland stepped up the pace.  He was then forced into a lunging save of a diving header from substitute Rafal Murawski, before Siphiwe Tshabalala tested Tyton seconds later.

Komorowski hit the mark just four minutes after coming on as a substitute, making the taste of victory sweet for a player who made his Poland debut in 2008 but has struggled for a regular slot. South Africa thought they had leveled the score seconds from the whistle, but Siyabonga Sangweni's shot was ruled offside.

Poland and South Africa's one previous meeting, a friendly in June 2009 in Johannesburg, ended 1-0 to the Bafana Bafana.