South Africa sank to a new low Saturday by losing 1-0 to minnows Sierra Leone in a 2010 FIFA World Cup™-CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifier. Veteran striker Mohamed Kallon converted a penalty on 22 minutes to give the win to the team ranked 33 places below the next FIFA World Cup hosts in Africa.
Once again the stars of South Africa proved no match away from home for passionate opponents desperate to atone for a last-minute Group 4 loss to Nigeria at the same venue last weekend. Nigeria play in Equatorial Guinea Sunday and a victory will take the 'Super Eagles' six points clear of their three rivals halfway through the second qualifying phase in the combined competition.
While South Africa -- who played without injured first choice central defenders Aaron Mokoena, Nasief Morris and Bevan Fransman -- are guaranteed a place at the 2010 FIFA World Cup as hosts, they must finish no lower than second in the final standings to keep alive hopes of featuring at the Cup of Nations in Angola the same year.
Cause for concern
Stand-in skipper and midfielder Macbeth Sibaya seemed incapable of inspiring his team-mates and recently appointed Brazilian coach Joel Santana wore a worried look almost from the kick-off.
As time ticked away Bafana laid siege to the Sierra Leone goalmouth only to be foiled by wild shooting, a lack of fire in melees and courageous goalkeeping from Christian Caulker. Sierra Leone were not much better, but they displayed passion by contesting every ball and with a little luck could have scored more than once.
The winner came when Bryce Moon fouled Samuel Barlay and Kallon called on his years of experience playing in France, Italy and the Middle East to calmly slot the ball into the corner as Itumeleng Khune dived the wrong way.
Midfielder Kagiso Dikgacoi came closest to equalising 18 minutes into the second half when he connected with a Tsepo Masilela cross only to see his shot rebound off the crossbar.