It was a record night for South Africa and captain Aaron Mokoena on Monday as the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ hosts outclassed Guatemala 5-0 in a warm-up match.
The winning margin was the biggest since Bafana Bafana (The Boys) returned to international football in 1992 after 28 years of apartheid-induced isolation, bettering four-goal margins against Chad and Thailand. And it came on the day centre-back Mokoena became the first South African footballer to win 100 caps and wore those figures on the back of his shirt just in case anybody was unaware.
The victory also stretched to 11 matches the unbeaten run of the host nation in friendlies since Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira returned last November for a second spell in charge. Katlego Mphela converted a penalty in each half and Reneilwe Letsholonyane and second-half substitutes Surprise Moriri and Bernard Parker were the other scorers for a team that led 2-0 at half-time.
Though with Guatemala ranked 114 today's opponents are a different proposition to Group A rivals Mexico, Uruguay and France, all top-20 nations. "Technically we were not brilliant but our attitude was very good. Our opponents often had nine men behind the ball so it was good to score five goals," said Parreira.
"I am not in a very good mood, however, as tomorrow I trim my squad from 28 players to 23 and cut some dreams. For three months I have seen wonderful commitment from all my players and I thank them."
South Africa are ready for the World Cup and can defeat Mexico in the opening match. The stage is set for Bafana to have a good run.
Caretaker Guatemala coach Francisco Melgar said: "South Africa are ready for the World Cup and can defeat Mexico in the opening match. The stage is set for Bafana to have a good run." Guatemala lie 31 places below South Africa in the FIFA pecking order suggesting they would struggle to contain the home team and so it proved with early pressure yielding a 12th-minute goal.
Unadventurous full-backs have clipped the attacking wings of South Africa in previous warm-ups and it was pleasing for Parreira to see left-back Lucas Thwala create the second goal with a run and cross that Letsholonyane fired home. The second half was just three minutes old when Moriri added a third, firing past substitute Marvin Barrios from close range after Mphela set up his Mamelodi Sundowns team-mate.
Guatemala were awarded a penalty for handball but captain Guillermo Ramirez made a hash of the spot kick, timidly striking the ball to his right and Josephs guessed correctly to parry a shot that was cleared. The home side had their own penalty on 56 minutes and Mphela sent Barrios the wrong way.
Steven Pienaar struck a post from a free-kick before Parker snatched the record fifth goal eight minutes from full time by unleashing a rising shot from the edge of the area that flew into the roof of the net.